Skip main navigation

Decision-making – logic vs emotion

An article which explores how emotion and/or logic help us make decisions

Look back at your responses to the questions we posed in Learning about our emotions. What was it like exploring the idea of emotions at work?

If you found it difficult, you are not alone. This is because there has been a historical and unresolved tension between using logic or emotion as a guide for most appropriate way to act or behave at work.

Take a look at Joshua Freedman’s article on the Origins of emotional intelligence. He speaks of Dr Daniel Goleman, whose international bestseller ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ’ is widely recognised as kick-starting the idea of emotional intelligence at work.

Goleman tells the story of two psychology professors, John Meyer and Peter Salovey, who were discussing political leaders while painting a house together.

They wondered: How could someone so smart act so dumb? Their conclusion:
Smart decision-making requires more than the intellect as measured by traditional IQ.
(Freedman 2005)
More of Goleman, Meyer and Salovey later, but in essence, some of these pioneers began to realise that other intelligences beyond rational thought make a contribution to life and work success, although the debate continues …

Your task

Here are two competing ideas around the value of emotions in life and work:
  1. Passionate emotions are dangerous, causing people to act foolishly in fits of anger and exuberance. (Matthews, Zeidner and Roberts 2012: 105)
  2. Emotions are critical for providing motivation, purpose and meaning in everyday life. (Matthews, Zeidner and Roberts 2012: 105)
Do you prefer to make decisions by logic or emotion?
Explain why in the community of practice in the comments area.


Freedman, J. (2005) ‘Dr Daniel Goleman on the origins of emotional intelligence’, Six seconds [online] available from [30 June 2018]

Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books

Matthews, G., Zeidner, M., and Roberts, R. (2012) ‘Emotional intelligence: A promise unfulfilled’. Japanese psychological research 54 (2), 105–127

Further reading

Leahy, R. L. (2007) ‘Emotion and psychotherapy’. Clinical psychology: science and practice 14, 353–357

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Emotional Intelligence at Work

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now