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The Rationality Myth

Some years back, Antonio Damasio, a famous neuroscientist studied people with the injury in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found out all people had one thing in common i.e. they could not make decisions. They were able to describe what they should be doing logically. However, they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat.

Research reveals that the decisions that we think are logical are greatly influenced by our emotions. Though, we humans are extremely good at giving a rational justification for our emotional decisions. We like to identify ourselves as rational beings.

That being said, the human mind and its processes are hugely complex. We might not ever understand the mind’s full depth or dimensions no matter the advancements in Neuroscience, which means we certainly cannot market the findings as the panacea. However, there is certainly some substance in all the research that has gone into the subject so far.

That brings us to our next question, how do we leverage this knowledge to design for positive outcomes? Both for business and end users. Would it be ethical to understand our user’s brain and try to convince them emotionally for something which they otherwise would not have done?

According to me that largely depends on the context. When we are designing to imbibe a positive habit say exercise in user’s lives, we should tap into emotions and see how we could make the maximum positive impact. What other contexts do you think we can tap into the user’s emotions to bring about a positive change?

 

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