Emotional Intelligence Organizations Social

Theory of Kahneman’s prospection: the emotional weight of our decisions.

teoria prospección

The cognitive psychology has major prominence in the taking of decisions, further of the pure statistical and the probability in the perception of risk as it believed  until does relatively little. Our experience is the one who really guides us in the resolution of problems inside the uncertainty that comports.

Theory of the prospección of Daniel Kahneman: we decide in function of causal relations.

We tend to sobrevalorar the probabilities that suceda something little likely (like having an accident of aeroplane) and to subestimar those other more likely of suceder (have the accident taking the car after having drunk alcohol). This was the base of the theory of the prospección (or of the expectation) developed by Kahneman and his faithful mate Tversky in 1979 and that forms parde of the most important theories on economy conductual.

Before this new theory thought that  the decisions of risk took  in function of the criterion of the value expected. The people decant  for taking the decisions of those bets that have a half gain more elevated in terms of probability independently of the context in which it find .

The experience says us that this no sucede in the real life. In determinate occasions, the people do not change our normal current state by one better. For example, no always we change our place of work by another more remunerado or with better conditions by the simple fact to be already satisfied with what already have (statu quo). It is therefore necessary to take into account the dependent subjective perspective of the context in which it finds  each person in the moment to take the final decision and of his utility expected.

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Daniel Kahneman (winning psychologist of the Nobel prize of economy in 2002) and his mate Masters Tversky applied the psychology to try explain the economic behaviour in the processes of taking of decision and the uncertainty that generate from the previous theories. For Kahneman, the taking of decision depends on where fix our point of reference that results of the context, in addition to the utility that contributes us, his subjective value. It is born like this the theory of the prospección or theory of the perspectives. 

The people tend to choose the most useful alternatives between the available in the specific context. We tend to give him greater emotional importance to the losses that to the gains by what in front of a same approach our decision. Like this, the emotional state generated for losing 10.000 € is greater that the emotional state to having won these 10.000 €, what produces an aversion to the loss. 

Example of theory of the expectation.

For example, if they present us  two alternatives, in one of them have 100% of possibilities to win €10.000 and in the second alternative have 95% of possibilities to win €12.000 the big majority of the people would decant  by the first alternative to ensure his profit although in terms of probabilities would be very feasible to achieve a greater performance. This sucede because the point of reference is the safest, win 10.000 €, and the emotional weight (pain) of the loss in spite of being complicated that it produce  (only 5%), is a lot of elder that the pleasure to achieve a greater reward.

According to this theory, the people give big importance to the emotional factor (cognitive) to the hour to do decisions that by minimum that seem can repercutir in our positive current situation (statu quo) by what decide not making significant changes and remain us already with what have. Our motivation to the change sees  affected by our context by what the value that give us has to be very big to take the decision that do us go out of our zone of security. The fear to the unknown keeps us in our comfortable zone since the fear to the loss paralyses us, by very low probability that exist of loss.

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Carried to a context more purely emotional, a person to which likes him another, is likely that do not say him what feels in front of the greater emotional weight of the pain that supposes the rejection compared with the joy of the acceptance.

You with which option would remain you?



Kahneman, D., Tversky To. (1987). Theory prospectiva: an analysis of the decision under risk. Infancy and Learning, 30. 95-124


Sobre el autor

Iván Pico

Graduado en Psicología (UNED). Nº Colegiado G-5480. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales (USC). Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y las Organizaciones. (INESEM). Máster Universitario Oficial en Orientación Profesional (UNED). Posgrado en Neuromarketing (Universidad Camilo José Cela). Técnico Deportivo Nivel II, fútbol sala (RFEF). Especialista en Psicología Aplicada al Deporte. Etc, etc...
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