Emotions, decisions, and the limits of rationality: symposium introduction.
In this symposium, three speakers describe research that examines ways in which people's decision-making is affected by emotions. In his paper, Dr. Loewenstein describes research on the properties and effects of "projection bias," the tendency to allow one's immediate, often transient, preferences to influence decisions in the future when one's preferences will be predictable different. Over-shopping on an empty stomach or failing, when not addicted, to appreciate one's future helplessness in the face of drug craving, are examples. Dr. Schwarz focuses on how experiences that accompany the thought process can influence the ease of access to information or the fluency with which new information can be processed. These meta-cognitive experiences can affect decisions. For example, recalling many risk-increasing behaviors is more difficult than recalling only a few. Drawing on this difficulty, people who recall many risk-increasing behaviors infer that they are at lower risk than people who recall merely a few risk-increasing behaviors, in contrast to what the content of recall would suggest. Finally, Dr. Bodenhausen clarifies what is meant by stereotyping, considers how stereotypes might influence decision-making processes, and discuss why this influence often might not be very desirable. He then describes research about factors that amplify the biasing impact of stereotypes in decision making processes. The authors provide examples, discuss implications of their findings for medical decision-making, and describe strategies that we might employ to minimize or eliminate the biases that might be introduced into decision-making processes.
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