Follow the heart or the head? The interactive influence model of emotion and cognition

Jiayi Luo, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The experience of emotion has a powerful influence on daily-life decision making. Following Plato's description of emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions, modern dual-system models of decision making endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion. Decision making is perceived as the competition between an emotion system that is automatic but prone to error and a reason system that is slow but rational. The reason system (in "the head") reins in our impulses (from "the heart") and overrides our snap judgments. However, from Darwin's evolutionary perspective, emotion is adaptive, guiding us to make sound decisions in uncertainty. Here, drawing findings from behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, we provide a new model, labeled "The interactive influence model of emotion and cognition," to elaborate the relationship of emotion and reason in decision making. Specifically, in our model, we identify factors that determine when emotions override reason and delineate the type of contexts in which emotions help or hurt decision making. We then illustrate how cognition modulates emotion and how they cooperate to affect decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number573
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Dual-process
  • Emotion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Reason


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