Dissertation Sample about Emotions

The Influence of Emotions on Human Decision-Making

The process of making decisions is a significant element of social interaction and existence for all humans. The rational approach plays an essential part in the evaluation of the possible results and consequences of making choices. However, the emotional component is an integral part of this process because the feelings of humans affect not only their mood but also their ability to think and to be predisposed towards particular options. The sense of fear may cause the person’s reluctance to act or to take bold decisions. The emotion of anger, at the same time, may affect the individual’s inclination toward the choices that are riskier. The observation of the specifics of the influence of the emotions on the ability of humans to assess the risks and make decisions is a significant part of the psychological research of the role emotions play in human lives. It is an essential question allowing humans to define the ways to manage and control their feelings to achieve necessary outcomes. The emotions play a crucial role in the decision-making process influencing how people use interpersonal relations, previous experience, the probability of risks, perceived utility, content of thought, cognitive reappraisal, and the feelings of others to make choices.

The role of emotions in the decision-making process is not always harmful. On the contrary, it can be beneficial to humans in some cases. The nature of the effect of feelings on the ability of a person to think and find solutions depends on the situations and the valence of the emotion. The emotions with a positive valence include the feelings of joy and happiness, which makes the person pleased and satisfied. The negative valence of the senses reveals the feelings of sadness and anxiety. These various emotions may affect the decision-making process in different ways. The first aspect to consider implies the mood of a person during the stage of making the decision. The positive-valence feelings make people more creative and flexible, affecting their ability to find solutions and make choices that are more beneficial (Resnick, 2012). The negative senses, on the other hand, restrict the ability of the individual to transcend the limits and demonstrate the creative approach to the problem as the result of the narrowing of the views. In this case, these emotions affect decision-making harmfully. The second aspect of analysis includes the readiness to risk. According to the research of Xie et al. (2011), a positive mood may influence the perception of the risk options, encouraging people to venture toward instances where they would be exposed to negative feelings. Therefore, the valence of the emotions is the central aspect of the level of impact on the decision-making specifics.

The interpersonal character of the demonstration of the emotions plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. The social context of the display of the feelings implies their connection and dependence on the environment and external factors. The feelings of humans often become the result of the interaction with the community and other individuals. Therefore, the interrelation between the emotions and the surroundings affects the decisions of people. According to Van Kleef, De Dreu, and Manstead (2010), the assessment and analysis of the emotions of the others and the context of the interaction between these humans defines the predisposition of an individual towards a specific decision. They claim that the social functions of the feelings play an essential role in the corporations and competition, encouraging and affecting people’s choices. Therefore, the dependence of emotions on the context of the relations of a person with the other representatives of the community reflects the tendency of a person to choose one option and avoid the other situation. As a consequence, the social context of the emotions plays a principal role in the identification of the best solutions.

Incidental emotions have a significant effect on the decision-making ability of people. The incidental emotions and feelings can be determined as the feelings that are not directly connected with the context of the situation but are caused by external factors. Although these emotions are not immediately related to the event and its contents, they still define the behavior of a person because they are connected with the general perception of reality and the overall state of an individual. According to the study of Edmans, Garcia, and Norli (2007), the stock markets endure the effect of the defeats of the sports team of the country on their profitability. In particular, the outcomes of financial events experience the adverse impact of sports events. This instance demonstrates the ability of the general mood of humans that have no association with the decision-making situation itself to affect the solutions that people find. Namely, the negative valence of emotions affects the tendency to have pessimistic views and demonstrate uncertainty. At the same time, positive feelings influence the attitude of a person towards the situation connected with optimism and favor.

Previous experiences influence the incidental emotions of people, defining what solutions they make in different situations. The research of the behavior of consumers of various products demonstrated that the perception of the circumstances that happened with the person in the past and the emotions connected with these instances impacted the predisposition of the customers towards the items they intended to buy (Achar, So, Agrawal, & Duhachek, 2016). In particular, people tend to consider the secondary particularities of the products in the situations when they experience guilt. This emotion can be the result of the disapproval of the individual’s behavior in the past. Therefore, the decision of the client would be defined by the previous practice. The emotion of shame, on the other hand, makes the customers assess the primary specifics of the items. The sense of shame can be the consequence of the negative evaluation of the general skills and abilities of these people in their lives. Therefore, this feeling becomes the background of the decision-making process defined by the cognitive perception of appraisal and self-evaluation.

Integral emotions also have a significant meaning in the decision-making process. Integral emotions are the feelings that are associated with the contents and information about the event. The context of the situation includes its circumstances, the significance to the participant, the specifics, and relation to the person’s life. Zheng et al. (2017), in the research of the alterations in the decision-making instances, applied the concept of fairness to distinguish how the cases of its demonstration affected the mood and the predisposition of an individual towards the specific situations. They defined that the instances of the manifestation of unfairness influence the conduct of humans refusing to accept the offer on the basis of the negative emotions connected with the feelings of resentment and disappointment. Simultaneously, integral emotions may affect the decisions of a person beneficially. For example, an individual may use the sense of anxiety and concern connected with a specific situation as a sign to assess the risks and possible negative consequences to create the strategy, being able to save the person from harmful outcomes.

The probability of high risk affects the decisions of people, making them choose the modes of their behavior on the basis of their integral emotions. The decision-making process is closely related to the probability of risks and their severity. According to the study, people tend to focus on the dangers when the valence of their emotions is positive (Blanchette & Richards, 2010). In particular, the feeling of happiness impacts the perception of the situation from the perspective of the probability of the occurrence of risks. If the assessment of the event reveals the high possibility of the harmful outcomes, a happy person may avoid the circumstances refusing to tolerate the consequences. In addition, the emotion of anxiety has a similar effect on humans, making them more cautious and demanding to the situation. The ability of the feelings to define the behavior of a person in its connection to the decision-making process proves that people tend to demonstrate tolerance towards the risks when they feel sad. The emotions of happiness and anxiety, on the other hand, prevent them from taking risks. The intensity of human feelings also changes the readiness to take risks. The illustration of this argument can be the claim that the low levels of the emotional responses among people affects their tendency to tolerate the situations connected with the risks (Fenton O’Creevy, Soane, Nicholson, & Willman, 2011). Therefore, the risks have a significant influence in the decision-making processes.

The emotions connected with the understanding and evaluation of the perceived utility of the action or event play a significant role in the human decision-making process. The concept of the perceived utility implies the idea about the ability of the possible occurrences or circumstances to satisfy the needs of an individual. This notion plays a significant role in the cases of the decision-making instances because it defines what emotions the person may experience on the basis of the assessment of the utility of the event. According to the research, the positive attitude of people affects their disposition towards the avoidance of the fact as the result of the negative evaluation of the perceived utility (Blanchette & Richards, 2010). It implies that the perception of the ability of the situation to be valuable to a person affects the judgment of the possible consequences and outcomes, making the individual consider the utility of the event as one of the essential reasons that explain the decision. Therefore, the emotional state of a person influences the assessment of the ability of the situation to become beneficial, which identifies it as the central aspect of the solution.

The process of decision-making depends on the content of thought connected with the specific emotions. In particular, the researchers of the particularities of feelings and their impact on the solutions define that the cognitive appraisal plays a significant role in the emotional state of humans (Lerner, Li, Valdesolo, & Kassam, 2015). The cognitive appraisal is the concept that concerns the personal evaluation and perception of specific situations and cases on the basis of the reaction to them. These appraisals affect the emotions of the individuals and, as a result, their predisposition to a peculiar solution. Consequently, the content of thought is associated with the cognitive perception of the situation and defines the manifestation of the emotions. For instance, people tend to use the specific circumstances as the explanation of their role in beneficial outcomes. As a result, the feelings of pride would appear on the basis of the idea of the particular part of a person in the situation. As a consequence, the future choices of a person would be connected with the thought of the beneficial role of this individual in positive outcomes. Therefore, the content of thoughts plays a crucial role in the process of making decisions.

Cognitive reappraisal can decrease the level of the demonstration of emotions affecting the decision-making process positively. The amount of emotional feelings of the person influences and defines the individual’s ability to think objectively without the effect of bias. The depth of the emotional state of humans determines how they would react to different situations. According to the study of Heilman et al. (2010), the control of human emotions with the help of the reappraisal of these feelings changes the negative attitude of these participants towards the experience of these emotions. As a result, the reduction in the perception of the harmful effects of feelings allows individuals to become more tolerant to the risk probabilities and to tend to be more daring in their decisions. These results indicate the significance of the evaluation of the feelings of a person through the personal assessment of the cognitive consequences of these feelings. Besides, it illustrates the essential role of the level of emotional expression in the process of choosing the options of the behavior.

The emotions of other humans also play a distinctive role in decision-making. Although the internal feelings of a person play a crucial role in the ability to think, evaluate, and choose the appropriate options, the external factors including the emotional state of the others also affect the decision of an individual. According to the research of De Melo, Carnevale, and Gratch (2010), humans tend to select the variant of cooperation with the agents in the case where they demonstrate the emotions, indicating their readiness to cooperate rather than isolate themselves. These results of the experiment reveal the significance of the perception of the feelings of other people in the situations when the decision should be made. Moreover, the quality and content of these emotions are the defining factors of the solutions. Namely, the feeling of anger indicates that the agent is not ready to cooperate, while the emotion of happiness implies the ability of a person to create the connections with others. Therefore, the feelings determine not only the way people evaluate the surrounding and the possible consequences of their choice but also the interpersonal relations regarding their closeness and the possibility of their establishment.

Emotions are a significant part of human life, affecting not only the way people feel but also how they interact with the others, how they react to various situations, and how they make their choices. The decision-making process is a complex activity including the component of the emotional state of a person as a decisive effect. The impact of the senses can be beneficial in some cases. It depends on the valence of these emotions. The social context of the interaction with other representatives of the community also plays an essential role in the development of decisions. In particular, the emotions are defined by the contact with others. The experience of a person connected with the incidental emotions produces the effect on the ability of a person to think and assess the situations to make choices. Besides, the possibility of the emergence of risks and the perceived utility are the part of the integral feelings of the individuals affecting the way they view and evaluate the beneficial value of the situation. In addition, the application of the thought content associated with the cognitive perception of life and different incidents defines how people evaluate their role in various cases and, as a result, make decisions. In comparison, the cognitive reappraisal of the emotions also may change the way people observe and analyze these emotions and make them more acceptable to these people. Finally, the effect of the emotional expression of others becomes the additional factor defining the role of feelings. Thus, all these factors of the emotional state of the individuals affect the decision-making process.


Achar, C., So, J., Agrawal, N., & Duhachek, A. (2016). What we feel and why we buy: The influence of emotions on consumer decision-making. Current Opinion in Psychology, 10, 166-170.
Blanchette, I., & Richards, A. (2010). The influence of affect on higher level cognition: A review of research on interpretation, judgement, decision making and reasoning. Cognition & Emotion, 24(4), 561-595.
De Melo, C. M., Carnevale, P., & Gratch, J. (2010). The influence of emotions in embodied agents on human decision-making. In International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (pp. 357-370). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Edmans, A., Garcia, D., & Norli, Ø. (2007). Sports sentiment and stock returns. The Journal of Finance, 62(4), 1967-1998.
Fenton‐O’Creevy, M., Soane, E., Nicholson, N., & Willman, P. (2011). Thinking, feeling and deciding: The influence of emotions on the decision making and performance of traders. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32(8), 1044-1061.
Heilman, R. M., Crişan, L. G., Houser, D., Miclea, M., & Miu, A. C. (2010). Emotion regulation and decision making under risk and uncertainty. Emotion, 10(2), 257.
Lerner, J. S., Li, Y., Valdesolo, P., & Kassam, K. S. (2015). Emotion and decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 66.
Resnick, M. L. (2012). The effect of affect: Decision making in the emotional context of health care. In 2012 symposium on human factors and ergonomics in health care (pp. 39-44).
Van Kleef, G. A., De Dreu, C. K., & Manstead, A. S. (2010). An interpersonal approach to emotion in social decision making: The emotions as social information model. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 45-96). Academic Press.
Xie, X. F., Wang, M., Zhang, R. G., Li, J., & Yu, Q. Y. (2011). The role of emotions in risk communication. Risk Analysis, 31(3), 450-465.
Zheng, Y., Yang, Z., Jin, C., Qi, Y., & Liu, X. (2017). The influence of emotion on fairness-related decision making: A critical review of theories and evidence. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1592.