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Title: Interdependence of utility and probability estimates : the role of social power in distinguishing theories
Author: De Moliere, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 4934
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis aims to identify mechanisms underlying the impact of negative utility on probability estimates (Harris, Corner, & Hahn, 2009). In particular, we investigated evidence for arousal misattribution (Vosgerau, 2010) by examining a moderation by interoceptive ability. Furthermore, we investigated an account of loss function asymmetry (e.g., Weber, 1994) by examining the role of decision-control. Important to the current aims, social power is related to both interoception and control. Power increases interoceptive awareness (Moeini-Jazani, Knöpferle, de Molière, Gatti & Warlop, 2014) and one’s personal sense of control (Fast, Gruenfeld, Sivanathan, & Galinsky, 2009). Thus, we examined whether power moderates the relationship of negative utility and probability estimates. Furthermore, we aimed to observe whether this potential moderation by social power occurs due to the powerful’s greater interoceptive awareness, or due to their greater sense of control, supporting an account of arousal misattribution and loss function asymmetries, respectively. Chapter 2 provides some preliminary evidence that self-reported interoception moderates the impact of negative utility on probability across 2 experiments. However, when measuring interoceptive awareness objectively, no evidence for a moderating role was found. Furthermore, assessing arousal by means of galvanic skin responses provided also no evidence for arousal misattribution as a mechanism. Next, in Chapter 3 we examined Vosgerau’s (2010) original findings demonstrating arousal misattribution. Across 4 experiments, we are unable to replicate Vosgerau’s (2010) results. Subsequently, we investigated the role of loss function asymmetries in Chapter 4. Across 4 studies we provide evidence for the notion that powerful, but not powerless individuals assign higher probabilities to negative events. Manipulating the controllability of the event, we provide evidence for loss function asymmetries as a mechanism underlying the impact of social power on the relationship of negative utility and probability estimates. Having demonstrated that powerful individuals can be more sensitive to negative information, Chapter 5 shows across 3 experiments that the powerful act more on affordances of negative affective states. The powerful, who have been shown to be more approach oriented than the powerless (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003) become more avoidant under negative affective states than the powerless. In sum, this thesis provides evidence for loss function asymmetries underlying the interdependence of utility and probability, and demonstrates that power can lead to heightened sensitivity for negative (affective) information.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available