Logically Illogical

It seems to reason that a great deal of life’s decisions are made with careful consideration to logical thinking. Wether it be weighing options, calculating risk versus reward, financial planning, investing and so forth. When making such decisions people often look at statistics, trends, history, opinions and data analysis. This is all well and good, in fact it is what is taught to us from high school through college. However, the resulting outcome of most decisions stems less from logic and more from basic human emotion.

Consider the stock market. Individuals do an incredible amount of research on companies they are looking to invest in. Also, companies use a great amount of resources to increase their stock value, resources based on research, development, strategy so on and so forth. Yet, during times of economic turbulence, the market falls for the mere fact that people lose faith in the company. They feel uneasy about the future and pull their money out, an emotional response generated by a great deal of factors. Therefore, it seems to be a fair statement that any economic well being is driven by human emotion. When people feel good, they invest; when feeling uncertain they pull their money out, even though they wouldn’t really lose that money had they left it in the stock market, even in a bad economy. The reason money is lost is because people sell their stock for less than they invested.

Much of life is like this. No matter how much research or numbers crunched, people rely more on their “gut feeling” than statistical data. Even some of life’s more mundane decisions are made based on feelings than logic. One could argue that logically, playing the lottery is a waste of money, often money that a person doesn’t have; or gambling for that matter. But, when a person “feels” lucky, that feeling overrides any logical reason not to partake in a high stakes gamble. That lucky feeling is often reinforced if a person does win on a long shot. In that state of mind, a person continues this gamble and often does not realize that the amount of money spent to win is far greater than the amount of money won. The investment cost more than the reward, yet, the good feeling of the reward perpetuates the desire to continue playing.

Even in interpersonal relationships between individuals are guided more by emotional feelings than logical choices. For instance people in dysfunctional relationships, perhaps sadly, even abusive relationships; the feeling of hope for a change or the feeling of “love” overrides the logical choice to get out of that relationship. In such cases, people on the outside of the relationship can look objectively upon the situation and give a number of reasons to a person to end the relationship; but, to the person involved in such a situation can not look past their feeling of attachment to the other person in the flawed relationship. The “wronged” person often makes excuses for retaining their involvement, such as: “hopefully they will change,” or “it [the relationship] isn’t bad all the time.”

In conclusion, it seems to be a fair statement that the majority of decisions made in life are based much more heavily on human emotion than on logical thinking. I believe this to be the case, since rewards coming from choices are a strong reinforcement to behavior and fear of failure is a greater deterrent to making potentially beneficial choices.


Please note: all of the examples and ideas are based on observations and not scientific study. They are strictly that of an opinion and any arguments against these observations are welcome.


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