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Stress-related changes in financial risk taking: Considering joint effects of cortisol and affect


von Helversen, Bettina; Rieskamp, Jörg (2020). Stress-related changes in financial risk taking: Considering joint effects of cortisol and affect. Psychophysiology:e13560.

Abstract

Many decisions under risk and uncertainty are made under physical or emotional stress. A recent meta-analysis suggested that stress reliably influences risk taking but did not find a relation between single measures of stress such as cortisol and risk taking. One reason for the conflicting findings could be that the influence of stress on risk taking depends not only on physiological but also on psychological stress responses, in particular affective valence. We tested this hypothesis in an exploratory empirical study: Seventy participants worked on a financial risk-taking task. In half of the participants acute stress was induced with a cold pressor task. For all participants we measured cortisol and α-amylase levels, blood pressure, subjective arousal, and affective valence before and after the task. The stress induction increased participants' levels of cortisol, subjective arousal, and systolic blood pressure but did not directly influence negative affect or risky decision making. Examining the interplay between physiological and psychological stress responses, a moderation analysis revealed an interaction between stress induction and affect valence: Negative affect predicted an increase in risk-seeking decision making in the stress condition, but not in the control group. A similar moderation was found with cortisol reactivity, that is, negative affect predicted an increase in risk-seeking decision making in participants with high cortisol reactivity but not in participants with low cortisol reactivity. These results suggest that the effect of stress on risky decision making depends on the interplay of affective valence and cortisol reactivity.

Abstract

Many decisions under risk and uncertainty are made under physical or emotional stress. A recent meta-analysis suggested that stress reliably influences risk taking but did not find a relation between single measures of stress such as cortisol and risk taking. One reason for the conflicting findings could be that the influence of stress on risk taking depends not only on physiological but also on psychological stress responses, in particular affective valence. We tested this hypothesis in an exploratory empirical study: Seventy participants worked on a financial risk-taking task. In half of the participants acute stress was induced with a cold pressor task. For all participants we measured cortisol and α-amylase levels, blood pressure, subjective arousal, and affective valence before and after the task. The stress induction increased participants' levels of cortisol, subjective arousal, and systolic blood pressure but did not directly influence negative affect or risky decision making. Examining the interplay between physiological and psychological stress responses, a moderation analysis revealed an interaction between stress induction and affect valence: Negative affect predicted an increase in risk-seeking decision making in the stress condition, but not in the control group. A similar moderation was found with cortisol reactivity, that is, negative affect predicted an increase in risk-seeking decision making in participants with high cortisol reactivity but not in participants with low cortisol reactivity. These results suggest that the effect of stress on risky decision making depends on the interplay of affective valence and cortisol reactivity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Life Sciences > Neurology
Life Sciences > Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
Life Sciences > Developmental Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Biological Psychiatry
Language:English
Date:5 March 2020
Deposited On:24 Mar 2020 13:14
Last Modified:23 Apr 2024 01:39
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0048-5772
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13560
PubMed ID:32133666
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_146169
  • : Project TitleModeling Human Judgment: Integrating Memory and Rule-based Processes
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSII1_136227
  • : Project TitleBiological Foundations of Risk Taking
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)