Monday, March 12, 2007

No reason: emotional appeals and decision-making

We mediators spend a lot of time helping people make decisions.

And not just any decisions--informed decisions. This is particularly important when you're dealing, as mediators often do, with people whose decision-making ability may be impaired by the strong emotional response that conflict can produce. The desire to punish an opponent, exact revenge, or teach someone a lesson can override reason and trump common sense. Sometimes you have to spend time getting people to consider whether a decision they want to make today in the heat of the moment will be one they regret ten years down the road.

Mediators then may be interested to see this video of Penn and Teller's recent experiment revealing how appeals to emotion over reason can sway people to commit themselves before they have all the facts--in this case to sign a petition banning "dihydrogen monoxide"--water.

(Via Boing Boing.)