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How Emotions Impact Decisions and Behaviors

HOW DO PEOPLE DECIDE AND ACT?

For a long time, scientists simply didn’t know. People’s best guess was that decisions — especially important decisions — were made in a linear, three-step process.

First, the person making the decision would gather data. Then, they would evaluate options and tradeoffs. Finally, they would make a decision and act on it.

Decades of groundbreaking research have proven that’s not at all how the mind works. As it turns out there is a linear, three-step process — but it’s entirely different.

THE HUMAN DECISION-MAKING PROCESS IS SURPRISINGLY ELEGANT AND SIMPLE: FEEL + THINK = DO.

We now know that what drives a decision, choice, or behavior is the result of two brain systems acting together. The neurobiology behind this decision-making process has been well researched.

We know now that the first of these systems to fire is the emotional system, which is located in the limbic region. This system operates automatically, quickly, and with no effort. The limbic region — an older part of the brain located in the mid-brain — is where emotion, habit, reward, hesitation, and motivation are processed.

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