Performing a secondary executive task with affective stimuli interferes with decision making under risk conditions
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- Gathmann, B., Pawlikowski, M., Schöler, T. et al. Cogn Process (2014) 15: 113. doi:10.1007/s10339-013-0584-y
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Previous studies demonstrated that executive functions are crucial for advantageous decision making under risk and that therefore decision making is disrupted when working memory capacity is demanded while working on a decision task. While some studies also showed that emotions can affect decision making under risk, it is unclear how affective processing and executive functions predict decision-making performance in interaction. The current experimental study used a between-subjects design to examine whether affective pictures (positive and negative pictures compared to neutral pictures), included in a parallel executive task (working memory 2-back task), have an impact on decision making under risk as assessed by the Game of Dice Task (GDT). Moreover, the performance GDT plus 2-back task was compared to the performance in the GDT without any additional task (GDT solely). The results show that the performance in the GDT differed between groups (positive, negative, neutral, and GDT solely). The groups with affective pictures, especially those with positive pictures in the 2-back task, showed more disadvantageous decisions in the GDT than the groups with neutral pictures and the group performing the GDT without any additional task. However, executive functions moderated the effect of the affective pictures. Regardless of affective influence, subjects with good executive functions performed advantageously in the GDT. These findings support the assumption that executive functions and emotional processing interact in predicting decision making under risk.