Cognitive Processing

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 113–126

Performing a secondary executive task with affective stimuli interferes with decision making under risk conditions

  • Bettina Gathmann
  • Mirko Pawlikowski
  • Tobias Schöler
  • Matthias Brand
Research Report

DOI: 10.1007/s10339-013-0584-y

Cite this article as:
Gathmann, B., Pawlikowski, M., Schöler, T. et al. Cogn Process (2014) 15: 113. doi:10.1007/s10339-013-0584-y

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Decisions under riskAffective stimuliInterferenceGame of Dice Task

Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Gathmann
    • 1
  • Mirko Pawlikowski
    • 1
  • Tobias Schöler
    • 1
  • Matthias Brand
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.General Psychology: CognitionUniversity of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany
  2. 2.Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance ImagingEssenGermany