Losing Your Head in the
Heat of Battle:
The Emotional
Involvement Error
Ninety percent of our lives
is governed by emotion.
—A. N. Whitehead
The odometer on Ray Davis’ Toyota Camry turned 120,000 miles last
week. Ray knew he was due for a new car. He figured it was now only a
matter of time before he was overwhelmed with maintenance costs—
something he definitely wanted to avoid.
This time around, Ray was going to treat himself to something sexier than
his Camry. He wanted a new Volvo C70. A red convertible. He’d seen
one at a car show, and it was love at first sight. So two nights ago, Ray
went on the Internet and did some research. He read reviews on the car.
He checked out J.D. Powers for its quality ratings, and he liked what he
read about the C70. He also found a Web site that gave retail prices,
dealer invoice costs, and what he should expect to pay. Armed with his
pricing information, he went to his local Volvo dealer last night. On arrival,
he saw the dealer had four C70 convertibles in stock—two white, one
black, and one red. Each had the same retail sticker price on the
Ray calculated that his dealer paid $44,425 for each of the convertibles,
and, from his research, he figured he should be able to buy a car at $700
over dealer’s cost or about $2,100 under list. After more than an hour of
negotiations, Ray drove out in his new red convertible. But he paid
$47,050. He was only able to bargain $225 off the sticker price.
This morning, a calmer and cooler Ray Davis realized that he had paid too
much for his car because he’d allowed his emotions to cloud his judgment.
He wanted that red convertible and his enthusiasm was evident as soon as
he walked into the Volvo showroom. Meanwhile, the car salesman played
on Ray’s emotions—talking up the joy of a convertible, the fun of driving a
red car, and the beauty of the optional chrome wheels. After a test drive,
Ray was putty in the salesman’s hands. In retrospect, Ray now realizes he
probably paid almost $2,000 more than he should have because he
allowed his emotions to get the best of him.
Emotions can have a powerful effect on decisions. They can influence
both the process by which a decision is made and, as in Ray Davis’ case,
the decision’s final outcome. We’re all human, and we all have emotions.
As you’ll see in this chapter, the challenge we face is to manage our
emotions so they do a minimal amount of damage.
Emotions that most of us have experienced at one time or another include
happiness, surprise, hope, fear, anxiety, sadness, despair, anger, and
And everyone, at times, gets emotional. Some people, however,
allow their emotions to overwhelm their decisions, especially when they’re
overly excited or under stress. Take a second and look back at your test
score for Chapter 9. Remember, low scores indicate you have trouble
controlling your emotions. The lower your score, the more you need to
aggressively try to control the negative aspects of emotions.

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