When it comes to decision-making, you ignore your gut feelings at your peril. Neuroscientists are mapping the risk and reward systems in the brain that drive decision-making, and what they are finding is that the reality is far from the cool-headed veneer we like to project.
The primitive, emotional parts of our brain have a huge impact on our decision-making, and most of it is unconscious. In fact, not a second goes by without our ancient animal instincts interfering with our modern civilised cortexes, for better or worse.
Scientists have identified several particularly influential areas of the brain affecting decision-making. They control traits as wide-ranging as our drive for reward, our attitude to risk, and our emotional and rational selves, all of which impact the type, quality and speed of our decisions. And more often than not, the emotional circuits in our brains take over from the deliberative ones, whether we like it or not.
With each new study in this field, it is increasingly clear how powerful our 'instincts' are and how unconscious happenings control the way we go about our daily lives, including business.
Some specialists recommend being more in touch with our emotional brains in order to understand - and use - them better. If you can't beat it, go with it. Emotional awareness is not new, but many executives who are taught that square, logical and considerate thinking is the way forward in boardroom decision-making, will probably see it as counter-intuitive.
Source: Decisions and desire
Harvard Business Review, January 2006
Review by Emilie Filou