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

Review of General Psychology, Forthcoming

25 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2006

See all articles by Michel Tuan Pham

Michel Tuan Pham

Columbia University - Columbia Business School; Columbia Business School - Marketing


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. Conjectures about the design features of the affective system that gives rise to these seeming sources of rationality or irrationality are proposed. Therefore, any categorical statement about the overall rationality or irrationality of emotion would be misleading.

Keywords: Emotion, affect, feelings, decision-making, judgment, reason, rationality, psychology

JEL Classification: A12, A13, C70, D11, D81, D83, D71

Suggested Citation

Pham, Michel Tuan, Emotion and Rationality: A Critical Review and Interpretation of Empirical Evidence. Review of General Psychology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=939394

Michel Tuan Pham (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

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New York, NY 10027
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HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~tdp4/

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

3022 Broadway
515 Uris
New York, NY NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~tdp4/

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