Asymmetric effects of positive and negative affect on decision making.

This source preferred by Kevin Thomas

Authors: Cahir, C. and Thomas, K.

Journal: Psychological Reports

Volume: 106

Pages: 193-204

ISSN: 0033-2941

DOI: 10.2466/PR0.106.1

Although affect is a fundamental element of decision making, there are different theoretical accounts and conflicting empirical evidence of its influence. This experiment was conducted to begin to provide a more coherent account of the influence of affect by using standardised images to induce affect and a betting task to measure decision making. Eighty-five participants were assigned to a positive, a negative, or a neutral affect condition before making decisions on two hypothetical horse races. Analysis indicated that those in the positive and negative conditions made lower-risk decisions than those in the neutral condition; however, this did not differ between the races, suggesting that task familiarity did not moderate the influence of affect. Contrary to previous research, these results indicate that positive and negative affect do not necessarily exert symmetrical effects on decision making.

Implications for the major accounts of the influence of affect on decision making are discussed in relation to the findings.

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