Michel Tuan Pham

Emotion and Rationality: A Critical Review and Interpretation of Empirical Evidence


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The relation between emotion and rationality is assessed by reviewing empirical findings from multiple disciplines. Two types of emotional phenomena are examined—incidental emotional states and integral emotional responses—and three conceptions of rationality are considered—logical, material, and ecological. Emotional states influence reasoning processes, are often misattributed to focal objects, distort beliefs in an assimilative fashion, disrupt self-control when intensely negative but do not necessarily increase risk-taking. Integral emotional responses are often used as proxies for values, and valuations based on these responses exhibit distinct properties: efficiency, consistency, polarization, myopia, scale- insensitivity, and reference-dependence. Emotions seem to promote social and moral behavior. Any categorical statement about the overall rationality or irrationality of emotion would be misleading. Conjectures about the design features of the affective system that gives rise to seeming sources of rationality or irrationality are proposed.

Source: Review of General Psychology
Exact Citation:
Tuan Pham, Michel. "Emotion and Rationality: A Critical Review and Interpretation of Empirical Evidence." Review of General Psychology 11, no. 2 (2007): 155-78.
Volume: 11
Number: 2
Pages: 155-78
Date: 2007