Emotions play a significant role in decision making, often over and above rational thought processes. If you break down the decision-making process only into so-called rational components, then you’re going to be excluding potentially the most important responses: the emotional ones.

When we make important decisions, there are many factors that can have an influence on our thinking and process. 'What is the best outcome?' is a multi-layered question. What we’re really asking is: what is best for us personally? For our organisation or group? For our family? And what is best for society as a whole?

Trying to arrive at a decision that takes into account all those factors and delivers a satisfactory outcome can bring all sorts of pressure to bear. But, we have a whole lot of resources at hand; within, actually. And we use it all the time, often without realising it.

Head, heart, and gut

Here in the tech space, we don’t talk about intuition a lot — maybe not nearly enough. But it plays an important role in decision-making, and perhaps a more important role than you think.

Crawford Hollingworth and Liz Barker, in a recent article, capture it well. What they say is, “unconscious processes such as emotion… play a vital role in our more logical reasoning… and it is this integrative approach that makes our decision-making meaningful… more effective and purposeful.”

Integrative is the key here: we need our head, heart, and gut to make effective decisions. Our heads deliver up the rational benefits or reasons as to why we might do something; our heart gives us the emotional reasons: powerful, but not always rational; and our gut provides our first and possibly most enduring response. Reason alone won’t take into account motivation and drive, as Crawford and Liz point out — without emotion or feeling, reason is simply a method of calculation.

If you want to make the best decisions, you must take into account all three. And you can put your instinct to the test: when you’ve made a choice, rather than going through and ticking a sheet of pro and con boxes, why not ask yourself, how do I feel? Have I got regret? Or fear of missing out (FOMO)? Am I craving a different choice?


People don’t make decisions based on emotion or instinct alone. As a researcher, I use multiple data sources to inform decision making, and encourage others to follow a similar process. The sources we use and how we apply them can either help or hinder our ability to make a good decision.

And if people are your 'data source', are you talking to the right people? Are you asking them the right things?

Once you’ve done a bit of digging, what is the most important thing out of everything you’ve discovered? What will have the biggest impact on the final decision?

Make your decision. Run your response through your head, heart and, critically, gut. And then, a final piece of the puzzle, accept that decision and move on.


At Datacom, we’re experienced in helping clients with a rational point of view. And we’re all human so we are inherently emotional beings. But what’s less known is that through research, we can bring an objective perspective — to understand what matters to your stakeholders, your customers, and your end users.

To make decisions we need data, insights, and metrics. As humans, we will also use the emotional data we can pick up from interactions. Because at the heart of it, it is how experiences and people make us feel that have the biggest impact, ultimately, on our decisions.

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