Emotional denial is bad for businesses and dieting – boffin

Mark Fenton-O'Creevy, professor of organisation behaviour at the Open University in Milton Keynes

Mark Fenton-O'Creevy, professor of organisation behaviour at the Open University in Milton Keynes

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PEOPLE who continually bury their emotions end up being less effective than those who understand and manage them, business leaders in Milton Keynes were told.

Open University (OU) professor of organisational behaviour, Mark Fenton-O’Creevy, told a breakfast briefing on July 5 that emotions are central to decision-making.

“Emotions are important to logic,” said Professor Fenton-O’Creevy at The Hub at the OU in Milton Keynes. “Patients without emotions make the wrong decisions.

“You need your emotions to think effectively. But that’s not to say that emotions can’t lead you astray.”

The professor referred to a three year study of financial traders’ and investors’ decision-making which found the most effective were able to combine emotions with evidence, experience and critical thinking.

He also said trying to control emotions was energy-sapping and eventually counter-productive. An experiment where people were tempted with chocolate chip cookies but told not to eat them found them less able to carry out other functions at the same time. He added diets fail because self-control uses too much energy.

“When we push emotions down we are more stupid,” he said.

Professor Fenton-O’Creevy also said more effective managers of traders were those who managed other people’s emotions. “Managing emotions effectively can have a big effect on the bottom line,” he said.

The breakfast was part of a series of events organised by the OU’s Business School.