Driver behavior and monitoring of risk: Damasio and the role of emotions

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Truls Vaa

A key issue involved in driver behavior (and therefore one that should be involved in driver behavior models) is the role of emotions. Recent achievements in neurobiology should also be taken into account. Damasio (author of "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain") distinguishes between emotions, defined as bodily responses and changes caused by external stimuli, and feelings, defined as the conscious experiences of these bodily changes; and argues that the emotions and feelings are the very instruments that make an organism capable of evaluating scenarios and making decisions in any given situation. This paper discusses the model put forward by Damasio and its implications for understanding risk monitoring, processing of information, and decision-making.

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