I have been thinking about the role of emotion in decision making for a long time. I have not been influenced by any existing research in the area, but focusing on my own thoughts. A quick Google this morning highlights others have also had these ideas, but only fairly recently (within the last few years) and it’s full role in decision making is still highly disputed in favour of “rational” decision making.
I think this is totally and utterly wrong. I think emotion is the MAJOR factor in decision making and rational is a method of implementing the emotional decision. Sometimes Rational may decide that the emotional decision is not achievable (or too risky – maybe the “happiness reward” is so far negative that it’s not worth the risk) and that a number of smaller, more achievable decisions will give a bigger “happiness reward” and override the emotional decision. Sometimes the “happiness reward” of an emotional decision is so great that the rational engine cannot override it and a “risk” is taken.
Everything we do is in the pursuit of happiness, or rather “perceived happiness”.
I have an interesting line of thought around self-destructive behaviours that are still born out of experience and I think those people still make decisions that are deemed self-destructive in the pursuit of happiness. It is just that their experiences have been interpreted incorrectly and they make bad decisions. For example, self-harming, people will self harm, because having that physical pain temporarily eliminates the mental pain that the person is suffering, so, they interpret that to mean that self-harming will increase their happiness quotient. This is where we need rationality to layer on top of emotional decisions to keep them in check,