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How hot cognition can lead us astray: The effect of anger on strategic decision making

Author

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  • Meissner, Philip
  • Poensgen, Christian
  • Wulf, Torsten

Abstract

Anger is one of the most frequently experienced emotions. However, the extant research on the impact of anger has predominantly focused on its effect on decision making in simple decision tasks. Strategic decision making differs significantly from such tasks, as it is characterized by complexity, ambiguity, and a high information load. To better understand the impact of emotions on strategic decision making, we investigate the effect of anger on decision quality and decision speed. To do so, we carry out a strategy field experiment with 52 executives in which we use participants’ psychophysiological skin conductance response. In line with psychological research on non-strategic decisions, we find that anger negatively influences decision quality in strategic decision making. However, in contrast to predictions made by research on non-strategic decisions, we find no increase in decision speed among angry participants. We thus extend extant theory by suggesting that anger impacts the quality of strategic decisions but does not affect important process characteristics such as decision speed.

Suggested Citation

  • Meissner, Philip & Poensgen, Christian & Wulf, Torsten, 2021. "How hot cognition can lead us astray: The effect of anger on strategic decision making," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 434-444.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eurman:v:39:y:2021:i:4:p:434-444
    DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2020.09.010
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