TED Conversations

Ecaterina Sanalatii

Consultant, MooD International


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What is the key to smarter decisions?

My question to the TED community is what is the key to smarter decisions?

As individuals, how can we make smarter decisions in everyday life?
How is this different in business decision making?
Can we help others make a better decision or should this be done out of own will?


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    Oct 2 2012: the easiest part would be to eliminate emotions, and do what is right, regardless of our discomfort
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      Oct 2 2012: No. Emotions are vital. Life becomes one great horror without them. Instead I suggest people study the nature of emotions and calculate them into the decision-making process.
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        Oct 2 2012: In what way does life become one great horror without emotions? Thank you. :-)
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        Oct 2 2012: Good emotions are cheerfulness, exhilaration, enthusiasm these are the emotions of life

        Bad emotions are anger, hate, grief, fear, apathy these are the emotions of someone who to greater or lesser extent is circling the drain.

        My profound advise is to associate with the former and to deal with but keep your guard up with the later.
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        Oct 10 2012: Interesting idea... Does anyone know of any research into how emotions affect decision-making?
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          Oct 13 2012: Basic Game Theory addresses it, although basic Game Theory itself does not directly deal with emotions, but rather trying to determine whether a decision is rational or irrational.

          The foundation Game Theory example is called "The Prisoner's Dilemma", where only two "players" have to make a decision that will affect both of them. Once the problems associated with making a rational vs irrational decision are understood, it is easy to see how someone's emotions affecting that decision could be a huge factor in the decision-making process.

          Here's an in-depth explanation of it. There are more "generic" explanations of it at various other websites.


          EDIT: Here's a more user-friendly version if someone wants to avoid the complex mathematical notation of it.

      • Oct 17 2012: My understanding of human motivation is that emotion is "fuel" that can power our willingness to act. Emotions are neither "good" nor "bad" in themselves any more than fire or electricity are. Think of emotions as a form of energy or power.
        As with all power, how it's used and what it accomplishes can be good, bad, or neutral. Anger, for example, is a basic human response to threat. It can fuel violence and really bad decisions that lead to really bad outcomes, or the opposite. For example, when my son was having big problems as a high school freshman and his principal was clearly more interested in stomping out a perceived threat to his authority than in helping my son I was enraged - but I didn't lose my temper. I used that anger to fuel the determination and persistence I needed to get my son a very good counselor and to get him out of that school. My anger carried me through the involved process of jousting with health insurance and school bureaucracies. It was *very* satisfying to accomplish that.
        Allowing the limbic system where emotions are generated to outflank or overcome the prefrontal cortex, where we have abilities like self control, planning ahead, connsidering consequences, making reasonably good guesses about others' responses to our actions, etc can easily lead to bad decisions.
        *Recognizing* one's own emotions - or at least one's own urges to do or not do something, is IMO, one essetial tool for making good decisions, along with good information and understanding cause/effect cascades.

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