Emotions and Decision Making

Too little emotion impairs decision making
Feelings help decision making:

1 Search and retrieval Brain uses emotions as "somatic markers" that associate feelings with alternatives:

  • Search space is reduced

  • Retrieval from memory is facilitated

2 Goal or preference setting Emotions indicate:
  • Valence (whether you feel positive or negative about something)

  • Salience (whether you should pay attention to something)

3 Retention
  • Arousal (excited/calm) improves memory retention

  • Memories are stored with their associated feelings

4 Learning
  • Choices (and outcomes) are "marked" by good or bad feelings

  • Enhances learning from past decisions

(Damasio 1994, LeDoux 1996, Picard 1997)