s272 To master crises, we need to know how we decide, perceive, think and act

Deciding, thinking and acting do not work the way we think they do

Deciding, thinking and acting do not work the way we think they do. With the knowledge of how emotions really work, people can behave sensibly and master present and future crises. In order to also overcome the limitations of previously used artificial intelligence, it is necessary to expand conventional AI by the logic of emotions that prevails in the emotive-cognitive cycles.

Human decision making is controlled by emotions – before cognition takes over.  There is a filigree network of mutually reinforcing and weakening processes behind the interaction between the two systems, the emotive-cognitive cycles. 

Emotions, and subsequently also feelings, have an influence on all cognitive abilities such as deciding, feeling, perceiving, thinking, remembering and many more. Only those who reject both science in principle and common sense still doubt this. However, the experts as well as the general public, continue their debate on the degree of this influence. 

Linear cognitive process – which does not exist in this form

Our cognitive system perceives consciously and is most often located in the neocortex. Perception and other great abilities such as decision making, attention, learning, memory, creativity, planning and belief, imagination, reasoning, introspection, will and many more are assigned to it.

The common notion and reigning general doctrine is based on a cognitive sequence: perceive, evaluate and then act.

Traditional 1-System Approach
Figure 01: Traditional 1-System Approach

We step on a branch and all sensory information condenses until we recognize a snake that is considered dangerous, only to jump away screaming. Later we perceive the branch and then realize that we were wrong. The textbooks have told us the story that it would make evolutionary sense to jump away from a snake instead of waiting until we are absolutely sure that it is a snake.

As early as 1884, William James doubted this sequence, as did Carl Lange in 1885, independently of James. What has remained from this time is William James’ bear: “Are we running away from the bear because we are afraid, or are we afraid because we are running away?”

A large number of human movements are triggered by processes that are not accessible to the conscious mind. Many of these movements can also be initiated consciously.

2-System analogies
Figure 02: 2-System analogies

Emotive cycle

Reality tells a different story, as many scientists like Benjamin Libet, Joseph LeDoux, António Rosa Damásio and Joachim Bauer have proven. However, this story sounds incredible and seems difficult to grasp.

Emotive movements - autopilot
Figure 03: Emotive movements – autopilot

We have already jumped away screaming before an object that we consciously could not yet have noticed. The visual perception process takes a good half a second (550 ms). The first movements, such as the narrowing of the retina, begin after 80 milliseconds and a 100-meter sprinter starts running before he hears the shot.

The “emotive” movement had already been initiated before the cognitive processes such as seeing or hearing were completed and also before we were subsequently able to evaluate the potential dangerousness of what we had perceived. James’s doubts were justified, as his assumption that we would run and then get scared comes closer to what had actually happened.

Emotive perception with emotive assessment and emotive decision

We “make” something like an “emotive” decision and initiate an “emotive” movement (screaming in freeze and jumping in flight), although neither cognitive perception as a prerequisite for cognitive assessment nor the decision have been completed yet.

As a logical consequence, something like emotive perception (eP) must have taken place in order to have triggered a directed emotive movement such as to freeze or to jump away. Also, an emotive assessment (eA) must have taken place which classifies the emotive perception as dangerous, just like the emotive decision (eD) to go into freeze or flight.    

Logic of emotions
Figure04: Logic of emotions

We have not yet cognitively perceived the bear or the snake, so we are not yet cognitively able to recognize whether either is a bear or a snake, or whether either bear or snake are dangerous. We should at this point abandon the thinking that our actions and decisions are rational or irrational; they are emotive-cognitive. 

The logic of emotions

Emotive processes are only rudimentarily comparable with cognitive processes such as perception, remembering, evaluating, deciding and acting. Remembering in the cognitive form does not exist. The process of emotive recognition and evaluation is directly interwoven with a movement. When looking at emotive cycles, traditional concepts are not sufficient and existing ones lead to confusion and irritation, especially in the area of emotions, behavior and feelings.

The cognitive description of emotions usually means triggered feelings, but also the emotional behavior when emotions have a strong effect. For example, one speaks of fearful or courageous behavior as well as of being rigid with fear when the basic emotion fear has a strong effect. Fear as a neurological structure provides safety by moving into rigidity, even if this is not always the appropriate movement in today’s world.

Emotive cycles
Figure 05: Emotive cycles

If the effect of the second emotion, disgust, is added to high fear, which ensures adequate distance, the biological reaction, escape, is triggered.

Emotive-cognitive cycle

Once the cognitive processes are completed, the branch is recognized. The emotive movement is initiated or rather has happened because we have already jumped away screaming.

The branch is recognized
Figure 06: The branch is recognized

Humans have an emotion and a cognitive system. Both work in parallel and largely autonomously and come to different decisions and movements at different times.

One and the same stimulus – the acoustic wave of the breaking branch and its color pigmentation – sets the processes of the faster emotion system into motion. This autonomously initiates a “movement” that is not accessible to the conscious mind through the logic of the emotions. Subsequently, the branch is perceived cognitively. So far, there is still no snake in play, although we have already jumped away screaming.

The first emotive-cognitive cycle constitutes the parallel processing in the emotion and cognitive system. The next emotive-cognitive cycles, the thought cycles, will be far more exciting.

The KiE Trilogy

We jumped away screaming, even though we had only stepped on a branch. The emotive cycle has worked on the logic of emotion. Cognitively, however, an unavoidable contradiction has arisen, which must now be transformed into a solution. At this point there is no snake, neither real nor imagined. The neurological process arising from this conflict happens so quickly that pertaining to this emotive-cognitive cycle one might fittingly use the phrase “we are thought”.

In this process, relevant is not so much to what extent the branch is first recognized and then the snake created. The conflict that needs to be resolved remains the same.

We are thought
Figure 07: We are thought

The inseparability of emotion(E), intuition(i) and cognition(K), the KiE trilogy, forms a coherent world view from the contradiction: anxiety(E) and snake(K) now fit together. As a solution, the snake is only now being created as a cognitive object, an image initiated by the anxiety that had already been acting before. Only now does a snake come into play as constructed memory. 

The accompanying unavoidable feelings as well as biochemical and other bodily reactions work to stabilize the process of mindfulness (anxiety) and the readiness for appropriate distance (disgust).

The coherent world view – rarely true, but always consistent

The coherent world view is not true or correct; it is only coherent, in the sense that the results from the emotion and cognition system, namely the anxiety(E) and the branch(K), are combined into a suitable coherent world view.  After the memory of a snake has been created, the coherent world view is further coherently merged. Even if more freedom has already been created here, this neurological process continues to happen so quickly that we are still more likely to be “thought” in this emotive-cognitive cycle, than we are to think this coherent world view ourselves: “I jumped away screaming from a branch because I mistook it for a snake.”

Coherent world views
Figure 08: Coherent world views

This coherent world view “I jumped away screaming from a branch because I mistook it for a snake” is not true and cannot be true. The time it takes to perceive the branch is a good half second, just like the memory of a snake. These two cognitive processes plus the comparison take longer than the emotive movement. We have already jumped away screaming after about 350 milliseconds.

Individual internal and external emotive-cognitive cycles

Emotive-cognitive cycles can be run through several times in order to bring about a conscious decision from provisional decisions. If too few cycles are completed, a decision is careless; if too many cycles are performed, the individual starts to ponder and sometimes never reaches a decision.

The coherent world view corresponds to the “imagined” effect and can be made more and more coherent by several cycles.

The preliminary decision
Figure 09: The preliminary decision

The emotive-cognitive cycles can go beyond the internal decision-making processes. A decision leads to an action which has an effect. It is possible to recognize via the external cycle to what degree the intended effect has been achieved. If necessary, a new decision is made in new emotive-cognitive cycles and thus the intended effect is still achieved.

Internal and external emotive-cognitive cycles in the interaction between people

Emotive-cognitive cycles also work between people. On the one hand, the behavior of the individual arises from internal emotive-cognitive cycles and at the same time acts as a stimulus to the next person. The effect that has arisen from this behavior also flows in as a stimulus. The behavior of others is subject to the same principles. In emotive-cognitive cycles, the stimuli, both fed by behavior and triggered effect, lead to the subsequent behavior of the others.

Interactions between people
Figure10: Interactions between people

The mutual effect of the emotive-cognitive cycles is the basis of all human interaction.

What do emotive-cognitive cycles have to do with artificial intelligence?

So far artificial intelligence is cognitive computing or weak AI based on cognitive approaches. Even though Affective Computing or Artificial Emotional Intelligence already exists, cognitive approaches such as statistics and rules are often used. Statistics are cognitively easy to process, but human behavior does not follow accordingly, as everyone knows. Human decision making and behavior arises from emotive and emotive-cognitive cycles. These can be easily recognized as patterns for AI. The individual changes and the effects in social interaction can also be processed well with model calculations and AI. This would create good conditions for deep learning.

Current approaches to AI use the 1-system approach, the cognitive approach: perceive(K), evaluate(K) with a subsequent emotional reaction(E). Cognitive biases as decision distortions are an overflowing attempt to explain, which in essence only give an indication of the KiE trilogy.  

Surprisingly, the logic of the emotions in the emotive-cognitive cycles satisfies a rational calculus, which however has little to do with rational or cognitive logic. Human behavior has been proven not to be rational. It is not irrational either; it is emotive-cognitive and thus can be described, explained and mapped in AI for the first time. The extension by emotive-cognitive cycles would make Artificial Human Intelligence (AHI) or Artificial Human Intelligence (AhI). AI extended by emotive-cognitive cycles would be the precursor to general artificial intelligence, which could go beyond human intelligence.

The fear of many managers that artificial intelligence (AI) might replace them is justified. The following statement by Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, “Man is an insecure decision-maker and must be replaced by algorithms (artificial intelligence)”, tends to fan the flames of general fear. In corporate announcements this has already proven a reality. Mapping AI on an immature theory of human decision making carries a high risk, forces uncertainty and poses significant problems for a global breakthrough and meaningful benefits for all people. 

Time will show how completely people will use the AI trilogy for new disruptive thinking or the degree to which a limited artificial intelligence will displace the insecure decision maker, the human being.

Personally, I would prefer it if people were to recognize the benefits and possibilities of the KiE Trilogy first and thus develop a better Artificial Human Intelligence (AHI) that benefits all people.

More about the series of articles on human decision making

Further articles about the different human decision forms can be found after the source below under tags “Article series human decision forms“.

More about the series Artificial Intelligence

More articles about artificial intelligence and how it can be extended with KiE can be found after the sources below at tag “Artificial Intelligence“.


November 2019 – Richard Graf, Elsa Graf (089) Revision 272 in March 2020

„Deciding, thinking and acting do not work the way we think they do.“ RICHARD GRAF


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