Thinking and Emotion

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Thinking and Emotion

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Behavioral Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    The course will provide a thorough understanding of the way in which humans think and make decisions and the way in which emotions influence these processes. In addition to addressing a number of practical applications, the course will address key VU research profiles from a psychological perspective:

    • Human Health and Life sciences: Most people have at least some knowledge of what it means to live a healthy life. The risks of smoking and obesity are known. We know that a healthy life involves physical activity and restricting the consumption of certain kinds of foods and beverages. Yet, knowing what makes us healthy is not enough. It remains a challenge for many people to actually make the right decisions. We will discuss human health from a decision-making perspective. Why is it so difficult for many people to lead a healthy life?
    • Science for sustainability: Human behaviour has allowed the environment to be degraded. We constantly make decisions that are not in the best interest of our environment. Do people just not care or is it just really hard to make decisions that are in the best interest of our planet? We will discuss sustainability from a decision-making perspective. 

    The way we think and make decisions has a fundamental effect on virtually all facets of life. Understanding real-world problems starts with an understanding of human behaviour and its underlying cognitive processes. How do we think and make decisions? What role do emotions play in our decisions? In this course human thinking and decision-making will be addressed using a theoretical framework according to which decisions can made by either a fast automatic system, or a slow deliberate system. Several aspects of decision-making will be discussed on this basis, from heuristics and biases to overconfidence and risky choices. We will address several real world applications such as decisions in court, consumer choices, moral decisions, decisions in science, and happiness. The VU research profiles concerning human health and sustainability will further be discussed from a decision-making perspective. The course will follow the framework of the book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, by Daniel Kahneman. The first five lectures will present this framework step by step and the remaining lectures will expand upon this with various practical and theoretical applications.

    The various topics will be addressed through lectures, demonstrations and discussions. Students will hold group presentations.


    • Exam 50%
    • Group Presentation 30% 
    • Group paper 30% 
    • Discussion participation 20%


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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