Reason, emotion and decision-making: risk and reward computation with feeling

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 May;13(5):209-15. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


Many models of judgment and decision-making posit distinct cognitive and emotional contributions to decision-making under uncertainty. Cognitive processes typically involve exact computations according to a cost-benefit calculus, whereas emotional processes typically involve approximate, heuristic processes that deliver rapid evaluations without mental effort. However, it remains largely unknown what specific parameters of uncertain decision the brain encodes, the extent to which these parameters correspond to various decision-making frameworks, and their correspondence to emotional and rational processes. Here, I review research suggesting that emotional processes encode in a precise quantitative manner the basic parameters of financial decision theory, indicating a reorientation of emotional and cognitive contributions to risky choice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Mental Processes*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Risk Assessment
  • Uncertainty*