• Peter Weichel Carlsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
The complexity of life in the modern part of the world confronts people with an endless number of situations where decisions must be made. This paper seeks to describe how and to what extent emotions are likely to influence the decision-making process, with a specific focus on decisions in the social domain. This linkage can be interesting, given that activity in the emotional system co- activates other systems, amongst others the stress system and a so-called psychological immune system. If this holds true some of the explanation for the increasing incidence of stress, in western societies, may be found here.
In order to reach a position from where it is possible, in a meaningful way to discuss emotional influence on decision-making processes, key aspects of emotion research tumultuous existence will be pointed out, in order to shed light on some of the ambiguity seen. After this clarification, a model of how the emotional system could be pieced together, based on a comparative evolutionary biological analysis of the emotional system, and its taxonomy is proposed. This is followed by a description and an explanation of dissonance mechanisms, which identifies a number of uncertainties and possible avenues for further clarification of the dissonance phenomena, as this may be associated with decision-making processes. The discussion identified a useful interconnection of multiple theories where amongst others the theory of self-perception and the theory of cognitive dissonance can be meshed in with mechanisms of conformity and mechanisms for somatic markers, which allows for a deeper but also wider understanding of the phenomena.
The inclusion of conformity and the somatic marker mechanisms may form the basis of the felt experiences that guide the individual in situations of choice. Highly interesting these systems co-activates the stress system and some of the oldest emotional structures, whereby the link between emotions and decision-making processes and some possible psychophysiological costs is established. These costs show up clearly on a personal level where it a.o. can be seen that impaired decision making skills is a possible consequence. In addition, it is seen that dissonance can have a personality-changing function. At the intrapersonal level, it may also be assumed to have a number of implications as stress generally is seen to alter the individual's approach to social interaction, which can be explained with a high degree of precision and detail when based on poly-vagal stress theory and the concept of allostasis.
Publication date27 May 2014
Number of pages79
ID: 198190833