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Affect, Reason, Risk And Rationality

Paul Slovic

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Our understanding of the psychology of human judgment, preference and choice is continually evolving. Behavioral researchers are coming to recognize that there is an aspect of information-processing that has been rather neglected. This is the, experiential, affect-based side of our mental life, which appears every bit as important as the analytic/deliberative side that has been the focus of much prior research and the foundation for multi criteria decision analysis. This essay will briefly describe new research demonstrating the powerful influence of affect on decision-making. Reliance on affect is essential to rational behavior yet it sometimes misleads us. In such circumstances we need to ensure that reason also is employed.