Psychology

Logic Emotion Reasoning Emotional Reasoning Problem Solving Decision Making



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Logic will set out the most viable options but emotion often makes the final choice. Logic is a way of examining what we do know to shed light on what we don't. What it can't do, however, is tell us what we like, dislike, value or truly want.



In deciding when it's better to apply logic and when it's not, it's perhaps easier to start with the types of questions which clearly can't be worked out through methodical reasoning. What's your favorite color? Did you enjoy the film? What would you like to do tonight? How was your vacation? Do you prefer your eggs sunny side up or over easy? Mr. Spock himself would be hard pressed to answer these using logic alone.



What questions like these have in common is that they concern how "appealing" something is to you as an individual. Not whether it actually IS the best, but whether you are drawn to it or repelled by it. Carl Jung described this "feeling function" as what we use when we accept or reject something. But there's more to feeling than personal taste. We can also find certain ideas, practices and issues appealing or repellent. These become our values.



Problem-solving and decision-making are often seen as purely logical functions but they rarely are. Logic and emotion are intertwined in decision making because logic reaches its conclusions based on emotion's values. Weighing up pro's and con's, for example, is a logical process. But what you consider a worthwhile "pro" or an off-putting "con" depends on what you want. Say, for example, you're deciding where to go on vacation. You can't compare different deals logically until you know whether you prefer sun or snow, mountains, beaches, sports facilities, museums, etc. Once your feeling side has established what your priorities are, logic can come in to determine what will best suit them.



So my advice as to whether or not to think logically would be to use feelings at the very start of a project to answer fundamental questions like "What do I want to do, have or achieve?", "What do I want to avoid?" and "What are my priorities?". After that, bring logical reasoning in to examine different options and decide upon the best possible course of action.



Using emotional reasoning to try and understand situations or other people can be highly unreliable. Intuitions are tricky because it's not clear what's really going on. An intuition about another person, for example, may be purely emotional based on your mood at the time or the fact that they remind you of someone you've met before. But it can also come from assessing their body language, facial expressions, matter of speech and style of dress. This can happen so quickly that you're not aware of having deduced your impression from certain clues like Sherlock Holmes.



Intuitions can be wrong as much as they are right but we often remember the correct ones better than occasions when we changed our mind. To be on the safe side, I recommend acknowledging them, but test them with logic to see if they hold water and actually fit the facts before believing them.



Logical reasoning and feeling-based information are both essential functions but they play different roles. Problems arise when we expect them to do each other's job. Emotions show you what you want and what is important to you but they cannot be relied upon to tell you what's happening outside your own experience. Logic can help you work out what may be the most realistic explanation or effective course of action but it cannot tell you what will make you truly happy.

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