Emotionally responding to environmental cues is crucial for adaptive human behaviour. For instance, in the presence of a predator, fear can be a good advisor since it can sharpen our perceptual abilities and reasoning in finding the best escape route. Usually we have the ability to modulate our emotional responses in light of changes in circumstances, while failure to do so is often associated with various psychopathological conditions such as anxiety disorders, and so forth.
Nonetheless, despite their significant contribution to our cognitive landscape, the role of emotions in reasoning is often overlooked, and is often understood only negatively. One reason for this may be due to an understanding of reasoning in terms of two separate, and often antagonistic reasoning systems. One system (Type-1) is fast, automatic, emotional and/or subconscious, whereas the other (Type-2) is rule-based, analytical, deliberative and/or explicit (e.g. Stanovich, 1999).
Recent evidence from work in fields as diverse as psychology, philosophy and neuroscience has challenged ‘dual-process’ theories. In line with this evidence, we favour a unitary reasoning system (forthcoming), showing that reasoning is the outcome of a compound process consisting in cognitive and affective aspects and crucially that there is a clear modulatory relationship between the two.