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Dissociable Effects of Task Irrelevant Emotional Information on Decision Making Under Risk

Debarati Bandyopadhyay / Narayanan Srinivasan / V.S. Chandrasekhar Pammi
Published Online: 2013-02-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ndm-2013-0001


Decision making under risk produces a significant difference in emotional experience (regret or rejoice) depending on the probability of the expected outcome. We often encounter various forms of emotional displays in our daily activities and these incidental emotions may affect our decision making. In this study, we investigated whether incidental emotional information present in the environment affects the processes involved in decision making and post-decision emotional experiences. We utilized the modified regret paradigm in which choices were presented along with task-irrelevant emotional (happy, neutral and sad) faces. We hypothesized that irrelevant emotional information would affect both overall decision time and the post-decision experience depending on the nature of emotional content. Our results indicate that happy faces decrease unpleasant experience (regret) and increase pleasant experience (rejoice) compared to the neutral and sad faces. During the decision-making phase when the amount of risk was high, subjects took significantly more time to make decisions when presented with sad faces compared to neutral faces. However, when the risk was low, they were significantly faster in decision making in the presence of happy as well as sad faces compared to neutral faces. The results indicate that even irrelevant incidental emotional information influences risky choice and the experience evoked by the outcome. The emotional context of a decision-making scenario modulates decision-making processes.

Keywords: Decision making; Risk; Emotions; Face; Regret; Rejoice; Win; Loss; Happy; Sad

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About the article

Received: 2012-10-30

Accepted: 2012-12-30

Published Online: 2013-02-18

Citation Information: Neuroscience of Decision Making, Volume 1, Pages 1–8, ISSN (Online) 2299-1174, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ndm-2013-0001.

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