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Normatively Irrelevant Affective Cues Affect Risk-Taking under Uncertainty: Insights from the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), Skin Conductance Response, and Heart Rate Variability

Published: 6 March 2021
 by  MDPI

Abstract: Being able to distinguish between safe and risky options is paramount in making functional choices. However, deliberate manipulation of decision-makers emotions can lead to risky behaviors. This study aims at understanding how affective reactions driven by normatively irrelevant affective cues can interfere with risk-taking. Good and Bad decks of the Iowa Gambling Task have been manipulated to make them unpleasant through a negative auditory manipulation. Anticipatory skin conductance response (SCR) and heart rate variability (HRV) have been investigated in line with the somatic marker hypothesis. Results showed fewer selections from Good decks when they were negatively manipulated (i.e., Incongruent condition). No effect of the manipulation was detected when Bad decks were negatively manipulated (i.e., Congruent condition). Higher anticipatory SCR was associated with Bad decks in Congruent condition. Slower heart rate was found before selections from Good decks in Control and Congruent condition and from Bad decks in Incongruent condition. Differences in heart rate between Bad and Good decks were also detected in Congruent condition. Results shed light on how normatively irrelevant affective cues can interfere with risk-taking.
Keywords: decision-making / behavioral economics / psychophysiology / risk-taking / skin conductance response / heart rate variability / IGT / somatic marker hypothesis

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