Anticipatory stress influences decision making under explicit risk conditions. Erwartungsstress beeinflusst die Entscheidungsfindung unter expliziten Riskiobedingungen.
Investigated the influence of anticipatory stress on decision making under risk. 40 college students (aged 20-34 years) were assigned to an experimental group (EG) in which stress was induced by anticipating having to deliver a public speech or to a control group (CG) without stress induction. Changes in stress levels were measured via questionnaires and salivary cortisol as well as alpha-amylase levels. Decision-making performance under risk was assessed using the Game of Dice Task (GDT) and a modified GDT in which no feedback on the outcome of previous decisions was provided. Results confirmed enhanced stress in the EG and showed that this group performed worse on the GDT than the CG despite explicit and stable information on outcome contingencies being available. A large degree of interindividual variability was found in the EG, indicating that not all students made risky decisions in stress conditions. Performance on executive tasks was not impaired in the EG. In closing, potential explanations of the findings are discussed.
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