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The Darwin Economy by Robert H. H. Frank

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NINE

Success and Luck

PEOPLE OFTEN SPEAK ABOUT THE EMOTIONAL BRAIN and the rational brain as if there really were two independent people housed within us—one driven by reason, the other by emotion. But neuroscientists stress that the brain’s emotional circuits and cognitive circuits are richly interdependent.1

In exceptional circumstances, strong emotional reactions can occur even in the absence of significant cognitive processing. This happens, for example, at the sight of a snake-like object, which can provoke fear before the image even reaches the cognitive circuits of the brain.2 More generally, however, our emotional reactions to events depend critically on how we frame and interpret them cognitively.

To know whether someone’s behavior constitutes ...

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