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Behav Brain Funct. 2007 Sep 11;3:45.

Decision making: rational or hedonic?

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Canada.


Three experiments studied the hedonicity of decision making. Participants rated their pleasure/displeasure while reading item-sentences describing political and social problems followed by different decisions (Questionnaire 1). Questionnaire 2 was multiple-choice, grouping the items from Questionnaire 1. In Experiment 1, participants answered Questionnaire 2 rapidly or slowly. Both groups selected what they had rated as pleasant, but the 'leisurely' group maximized pleasure less. In Experiment 2, participants selected the most rational responses. The selected behaviors were pleasant but less than spontaneous behaviors. In Experiment 3, Questionnaire 2 was presented once with items grouped by theme, and once with items shuffled. Participants maximized the pleasure of their decisions, but the items selected on Questionnaires 2 were different when presented in different order. All groups maximized pleasure equally in their decisions.These results support that decisions are made predominantly in the hedonic dimension of consciousness.

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