A new study is recommending an age-old secret mantra to confused souls - "Trust your heart"! And this rule applies whether you have to make a choice from a clothing line in a department store, opt for the right flavor from a restaurant's ice-cream menu or even a potential life partner from a marriage portal!
In the new study, Leonard Lee (Columbia Business School), On Amir (University of California, San Diego), and Dan Ariely (Duke University), found that emotions could be more dependable when a person has to make choices.
"Our current research supports theories in evolutionary psychology that propose that our emotions can be conceived as a set of 'programs' that have evolved over time to help us solve important recurrent problems with speed and accuracy, whether it is to fall in love or to escape from a predator," wrote the authors.
They added: "We investigated the following question: To what extent does relying on one's feelings versus deliberative thinking affect the consistency of one's preferences?" write the authors.
For the study, the researchers designed experiments where participants studied and chose among 8-10 products, sometimes relying upon their emotional reactions and sometimes calling upon cognitive skills.
And they concluded: "Emotional processing leads to greater preference consistency than cognitive processing."
In addition, they found that the study participants tended to make more consistent choices when products were represented by pictures instead of names, when pictures were in colour rather than black and white, and when the participants were encouraged to trust their feelings while making their choices.
Also, the subjects made consistent choices when they had greater cognitive constraints (i.e., when they were asked to memorize a ten-digit number as opposed to a two-digit one), and when the products tended to be more exciting (a pen with a built-in FM radio receiver) rather than functional (an LED book light).
"If one buys a house and relies on very cognitive attributes such as resale value, one may not be as happy actually purchasing it. Indeed, our results suggest that the heart can very well serve as a more reliable compass to greater long-term happiness than pure reason," wrote the authors.
The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.