The role of emotions in decision making.

The coronavirus came on quickly, and required a lot of decisions to be made with not much data. People had to weigh not only the data, but how they felt about the data. Would it change? Is it over-inflated because the early numbers aren’t reliable since things such as test availability, number of people infected, mutation, regional differences, and death rate are all changing or uncertain.

This is why we have emotions. To respond in the absence of data.

If you were unaware tigers existed, and one was snarling at you, taking the time to look tigers up on Google, the chance that it will maul you, and what the outcome of that mauling would be whether injury or death in the case of running vs. fighting isn’t practical. In fact, it’s fatal. This is the reason society hasn’t lost emotions through natural selection, often times they save our lives through triggering fight or flight.

“Emotional” is a term often used to deride bad decision-making. In certain things, the stock market for example, it may be true. However, in cases where there will only ever be one data point, like quitting a job to start a business, it’s the only tool available. You can’t know for certain all the sales, earnings, profits, risks, in advance of starting the business. Some projections of those things are possible, but you are still weighing those against the feeling you are correct about them.