Friday, August 3, 2018

My Reading Thoughts, Summaries and Connections: The Social Animal by David Brooks - Chapter 1 (Decision Making)

Set in the middle of a the story of a young couple's first date, Chapter 1 digs into the idea of "decision making" and shares research and thoughts on how we make decisions. The information reflects an understanding that the brain is built upon experiences and that those experiences impact any future decisions. It also speaks the importance of "emotion" in the decision making process. Emotion was not explicity defined but it seemed to reference mroe our bodily sensations (somatic markers) rather than what we traditional think of as emotions. The theme that I kept seeing over and over again is one of the importance of the brain-body connection.

I was also fascinated with the research that was referenced around examining the decision making process in people who have had brain injuries that impact that their emotional processing abilities. In these situations, the people were unable to make decisions even though they could engage in all the cognitive steps involved in the decision making process (listing the options, analyzing the options). The conclusion made was that without the unconscious referencing of "emotions" that we do in the decision making process, making decisions is not possible.

There was reference in this chapter to people rely on reason alone to make decisions engaging in self-destrcutive and dangerous behaviours. Emotion and the abiltiy to feel other people are important in making sound decisions. As someone who at times can be acused of being overly-emotional, this idea sits well with me.

My visual summary of Chapter 1 is below. There is much more than this in the actual chapter but this reflects the concepts that jumped out at me and the way that I see them connecting. Clicking on each graphic should make it larger and easier to see.

Note that my next post about this book will be on Chapter 3. Chapter 2 is simply a part of the story that the book is told within. It carries the story through the first months of the marriage of the parents of one of the main characters (Harold). 

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