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Cognitive Pscyhology: Rationality and Emotion in Human Decision Making




Admissions requirements

Introduction to Psychology or permission from the instructor. Social Psychology is highly recommended.


This course addresses the interaction of human emotion and cognition. Historically, emotions are considered the opponent of rational thinking and good decision-making, and so good decision-makers are commonly advised to not trust their affective preferences. However, recent research provides increasing evidence that emotions provide important information that can improve the quality of decision-making and allow for very quick (yet reasonable) decisions. The course provides a general introduction into the basic science of emotion, including evolutionary, anthropological, sociological, information-processing, and neurophysiological approaches, and it highlights the emotion-cognition interaction in a number of research domains.

Course objectives

The general objective is to provide a solid theoretical background for the understanding of emotional processes and a selective overview of some research areas investigating interactions between emotion and cognition


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of interactive-lectures and workgroups. The sessions will provide students with the necessary background to understand and appreciate the different approaches to emotion and cognition, the different research goals these approaches have, and the different research methods they use


  • In class participation and preparing discussion question for each session – 10% – week 1-7

  • Writing a research proposal – 20% – week 4

  • Writing a blog – 15% – Ongoing weeks 1-7

  • Present a scientific article – 25% – 7

  • Final research essay of maximally 2000 words – 30% – Ongoing weeks 1-7 but due after week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Compulsory Literature

  • Elaine Fox (2008) Emotion Science. ISBN10: 0-230-00518-7, ISBN13: 978-0-230-00518-1

Additional articles:

  • Appelhans, B.M. & Luecken, L.J. (2006). Heart Rate Variability as an Index of Regulated Emotional Responding. Review of General Psychology, 3, 229-240

  • Lewis, P. A., & Critchley, H. D. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(10), 431-433.

  • De Waal, F.B.M. (2011). What is an animal emotion? Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1224, 191-206.

  • Kret, M.E. (2015). Emotional expressions beyond facial muscle actions. A call for studying autonomic signals and their impact on social perception. Frontiers in Psychology.

  • Kret, M.E. Fischer, A.H. & de Dreu, C.K.W. (2015). Pupil-mimicry correlates with trust in in-group partners with dilating pupils. Psychological Science, 26(9), 1401-1410.

  • Kret, M.E. & Ploeger, A. (2015). The liability spectrum of disrupted emotion processing. Explaining the comorbidity of mental disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 52, 153-171.

  • Laird, J. D., & Lacasse (2014). Bodily Influences on Emotional Feelings: Accumulating Evidence and Extensions of William James’s Theory of Emotion. Emotion Review, 6(1), 27-34.

  • Lang, P.J. (2014). Emotion’s Response Patterns: The Brain and the Autonomic Nervous System. Emotion Review, 6(2), 93-99.

  • Ekkekakis, P. (2012). Affect, mood and emotion. In G. Tenenbaum, R. Eklund, & A. Kamata (Eds.). Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

  • Moran, J. M., Young, L. L., Saxe, R., Lee, S. M., O’Young, D., Mavros, P. L., & Gabrieli, J. D. (2011). Impaired theory of mind for moral judgment in high-functioning autism. PNAS, 108(7), 2688-2692.

  • Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E., Hari, R., Hietanen, J. (2014). Bodily maps of emotions. PNAS, 111(2), 646-651.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Email Instructor: Dr. Mariska Kret: