2010, Vol. 10, No. 2, 257–265
© 2010 American Psychological Association
1528-3542/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0018489
Emotion Regulation and Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty Renata M. Heilman and Liviu G. Cris¸an
George Mason University
Mircea Miclea and Andrei C. Miu
It is well established that emotion plays a key role in human social and economic decision making. The recent literature on emotion regulation (ER), however, highlights that humans typically make efforts to control emotion experiences. This leaves open the possibility that decision effects previously attributed to acute emotion may be a consequence of acute ER strategies such as cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. In Study 1, we manipulated ER of laboratory-induced fear and disgust, and found that the cognitive reappraisal of these negative emotions promotes risky decisions (reduces risk aversion) in the Balloon Analogue Risk Task and is associated with increased performance in the prehunch/hunch period of the Iowa Gambling Task. In Study 2, we found that naturally occurring negative emotions also increase risk aversion in Balloon Analogue Risk Task, but the incidental use of cognitive reappraisal of emotions impedes this effect. We offer evidence that the increased effectiveness of cognitive reappraisal in reducing the experience of emotions underlies its beneficial effects on decision making. Keywords: emotion regulation, cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, decision making, risk aversion
we find that the decision effects of emotion vary according to the way in which a person regulates the emotion experience.
Various theoretical approaches have indicated that, contrary to traditional thinking in psychology and economics (Neisser, 1967; Simon, 1956), emotions play an active role in some forms of
decision making. Regardless of whether they have been assimilated to the “goodness” or “badness” of alternatives for action (Slovic et al., 2007), attributed to activation in basic appetitive or defensive motivational systems (Bradley & Lang, 2007; Loewenstein & O’Donoghue, 2004), or reduced to somatic markers associated with current or past behavioral outcomes (Bechara, Damasio, & Damasio, 2000), emotions have been consistently
shown to influence decision making.
In the emerging neuroeconomics literature, brain lesion, functional neuroimaging, and neurophysiological studies in animal models and humans have begun to shed light on the neural foundation of emotion and decision (Coricelli, Dolan, & Sirigu, 2007; O’Doherty & Bossaerts, 2008; Rangel, Camerer, & Montague,
2008; Seymour & Dolan, 2008). These studies suggest that humans can anticipate the emotional impact of potential future decisions using processes that involve the amygdala as well as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (Bechara, Damasio, Damasio, & Lee, 1999; De Martino, Kumaran, Seymour, & Dolan, 2006;
Weller, Levin, Shiv, & Bechara, 2007). This type of anticipation can be adaptive in that emotions such as anxiety or disgust have been shown to impair decision making (Lerner, Small, & Loewenstein, 2004; Preston, Buchanan, Stansfield, & Bechara, 2007), even when physiological responses properly signal disadvantageous alternatives (Miu, Heilman, & Houser, 2008). The intrinsic role of emotion in decision is all the more important as the value of prospects (i.e., actions with uncertain rewards) is computed in “emotion– cognition brain hubs” (Pessoa, 2008)
It is well established that emotion plays a key role in human social and economic decision making (see, e.g., Elster, 1998; Loewenstein, 2000; Peters, Va¨stfja¨ll, Ga¨rling, & Slovic, 2006). People evaluate objective features of alternatives such as expected return in a subjective way (Edwards, 1962; Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), and emotions are understood to influence these subjective evaluations (Loewenstein & O’Donoghue,...
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