HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Thornton F. Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy, Decision Science, and Management


We review major theories of emotion and decision making, concentrating on developments within the disciplines of psychology, economics, and decision science. These theories naturally cluster into two sets of theories – one set that views emotional valence (i.e., positivity versus negativity) as the primary factor for predicting decision outcomes and a second set of theories that views valence as one of multiple factors for making predictions. Often known as “emotion-specific models,” theories in this latter set propose, for example, that emotions of the same valence can have opposing (rather than similar) effects on certain decisions. After describing strengths and weaknesses of each set, we proceed to review the Emotion-Imbued Choice model (EIC) -- a unified, meta-level model of emotion and decision making. We close by noting the accelerating pace of important developments in understanding emotion and decision making as well as by noting promising future directions.


Lerner, Jennifer S., Charles A. Dorison, and Joowon Klusowski. "How Do Emotions Affect Decision Making?" Emotion Theory: The Routledge Comprehensive Guide, Volume II: Theories of Specific Emotions and Major Theoretical Challenges. Routledge, 2024.