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Decisions Made by 'Heart Not Brain' Increase Prosocial Behaviour, Finds Study

The study involved a total of 1828 participants who differed on the basis of age, gender, and geography. (Credits: Reuters)

The study involved a total of 1828 participants who differed on the basis of age, gender, and geography. (Credits: Reuters)

The team suggests that the affective mode of the decision increases prosocial behaviours and is more intuitive in cases of social dilemmas.

Human judgement wears two different, and ever-present shades – rational and emotional. One shade, at one point in time, is always dominant over the other. A team of researchers has devised a study examining the effects of this changing composition of the rational and the emotional or affective modes of decision. The team suggests that the affective mode of the decision increases prosocial behaviours and is more intuitive in cases of social dilemmas. The research adds more depth to the way people find solutions to problems of extreme sizes. The research differentiates between the decisions made out of self-interest and those made out of prosocial behaviours.

The study involved a total of 1828 participants who differed on the basis of age, gender, and geography. Participants were analysed on four manipulation aspects which assessed their decisions and their perspective about the decision. They had to assess the nature of their decision taken if it was intuition (spontaneous, affect-based) and deliberation (effortful, planned, and analytical).

The choice given to the participants was to draw a coloured jellybean from either a small bowl or a large bowl. While the small bowl had more percentage of jelly beans, while the larger bowl had more jellybeans in terms of number. While the rational choice is to choose from the small bowl, the large bowl falls under the category of intuitive choices.

The team of researchers led by Manja Gartner noticed positive effects of decisions made from intuitive choices rather than rational choices. “The negative effect of inducing reason on prosocial behaviour makes up a larger share of the total effect on the affect/reason-distinction than the positive effect of inducing emotion,” wrote the authors in the study.

The research laid grounds for further studies based on the importance of prosocial behaviours in addressing various problems on the global scale, including health, poverty, and environmental preservation.

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first published:March 17, 2022, 17:23 IST