The Danger of Emotional Reasoning and How to Overcome It for Better Decision-Making


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 01, 2023

3 min read


The Danger of Emotional Reasoning and How to Overcome It for Better Decision-Making


Emotional reasoning, as described by recent research, is the tendency to rely on our emotions as evidence about the external world, even when those emotions may not be directly related to the situation at hand. This can lead to inaccurate perceptions and contradict objective truths. Coined by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1970s, emotional reasoning manifests as automatic thoughts that can affect our mental health and overall well-being. Studies have shown that isolated negative thoughts can spiral into a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, impacting our performance and productivity. In this article, we will explore the dangers of emotional reasoning and provide actionable advice on how to overcome it.

Understanding Emotional Reasoning:

Emotional reasoning can cloud our judgment and hinder our decision-making abilities. When we rely solely on our emotions as proof, we may fail to consider objective evidence or alternative perspectives. This can lead to biased thinking and flawed conclusions. Recognizing emotional reasoning is the first step towards overcoming it.

Actionable Advice:

1. Practice Validity Testing:

Validity testing involves searching for objective evidence to support or refute our emotional beliefs. When faced with a situation that triggers strong emotions, take a step back and assess whether your emotions are based on facts or personal biases. Seek out evidence that supports or challenges your emotional reasoning. This exercise helps break the cycle of relying solely on emotions and encourages a more objective evaluation of the situation.

2. Journaling for Self-Reflection:

Keeping a journal can be an effective tool for self-reflection and identifying patterns in our thought processes. By recording difficult situations and the emotions or thoughts they provoke, we can gain a better understanding of how emotional reasoning affects us. Regularly reviewing our journal entries allows us to identify when emotional reasoning is at play and provides an opportunity to challenge and reject negative thoughts before they take hold.

3. Seek Objective Perspectives:

When we are deeply entrenched in our emotions, it can be challenging to accurately assess our own performance or make objective judgments. Engaging in open conversations with trusted colleagues or friends can provide valuable objective perspectives. Sharing our concerns and seeking their input can help us gain a clearer view of the situation, free from the influence of emotional reasoning. Their insights can help us challenge our own biases and make more informed decisions.


Emotional reasoning can be a detrimental force that distorts our perceptions and inhibits our decision-making abilities. By practicing validity testing, journaling for self-reflection, and seeking objective perspectives, we can overcome the dangers of emotional reasoning and make better choices. Recognizing the influence of emotions and actively challenging them allows us to approach situations with greater clarity, leading to improved outcomes and personal growth. Embracing a more rational approach to decision-making ultimately empowers us to build better products, relationships, and lives.

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