A common interpretation in behavioural finance is that rationality is the result of a pure cognitive process which can be behaviourally biased. In general, the bias has a negative connotation because it produces a distortion in the calculation of an outcome. When a decision-making process is cognitively biased the outcome leads to sub-optimal results or judgement errors. Roughly speaking, the subject might make irrational choices due to faulty reasoning, statistical errors, lack of information, memory errors, and the like. Differently, when the decision is emotionally biased, it means that the cognitive process has been influenced by feelings, affects, moods, and so on (let’s label these states “emotions”). This leads us to irrational decisions or actions. (Pompian 2006, Livet 2010, Mazzoli and Marinelli 2011, Fairchild 2014)
In this interpretation, cognitive and emotional processes are discrete and produced by two different systems: a cognitive and an emotional system. While cognitive biases are influences that affect rationality from within the cognitive system, emotional biases refer to those influences that affect the cognitive system from outside.