Pfister and Böhm (2008) have developed a classification of how emotions function in decision-making that conceptualizes an integral role for emotions, rather than simply influencing decision-making.
The four roles played by emotions in this framework are:
This includes both positive and negative emotions that arise directly from the options being considered by the decision maker, who can then evaluate choices with this “information.” This role is especially likely when the felt emotion is reducible; that is, easily reduced to a simple comparison (for example, attraction and repulsion), and unequivocally positive or negative. Pleasure and displeasure make up the spectrum of these emotions.
: While making a good decision is important, making a quick decision is also important. Therefore, emotions and associated somatic conditions can offer mechanisms for encouraging a decision maker to decide quickly, especially when one or more options are potentially dangerous. Hunger, anger and fear can all induce a speedy decision.
Emotions help decision makers decide whether a certain element of the decision is relevant to their particular situations. Each person’s personal history and state(s) of mind leads to a different set of relevant information. The two such emotions most studied to date are regret and disappointment.
In some ways, making the decision best for the self may be construed “the best” overall. However, acting in the best interests of others is also important in human civilization, and moral sentiments, or emotions, serve to help decision makers commit to such a decision rather than being drawn back toward pure self-interest. Emotions such as guilt and love help decision makers make such commitments.