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Title: The interaction between emotion and economic decision-making
Author: Charpentier, C. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 8507
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Emotions play an important role in daily life decisions. For example, we are likely to choose, judge, or evaluate things around us in different ways depending on whether we are feeling sad, anxious, or happy. Emotional reactions to life events and outcomes, such as winning an award, or getting a divorce, should also predict individuals' subsequent decisions. However, the mechanisms by which such interactions between emotions and decisions unfold are still poorly understood. The aim of this thesis was two-fold: first, to characterize a computational model of how emotions are integrated into decisions; second, to provide a better understanding of the cognitive and neural mechanisms by which manipulating emotions can alter decisions. Following the general introduction and methods description, the first experimental chapter shows that integrating emotions (self-report feelings) in a computational model of decision-making could reliably predict people's gambling choices, indicating a unique contribution of feelings to decisions. The second experimental chapter explores the influence of incidental emotional priming on gambling choice and the underlying neural mechanisms, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The findings suggest that how external emotions impact decisions, at both behavioural and neural levels, varied with individual differences in levels of trait anxiety. The third experimental chapter attempts to extend this finding by testing how risky decisions are altered in patients with clinical anxiety, relative to healthy controls; demonstrating a dissociation between sensitivity to risk, which was enhanced in anxiety, and sensitivity to monetary losses, which was not associated with anxiety. This thesis provides a more complete understanding of the complex interactions between emotions, mood and decision-making. In the final chapter the findings are discussed in light of influential theories in cognitive neuroscience and behavioural economics that posit a central role for emotions in determining the choices we make.
Supervisor: Roiser, J. P. ; Sharot, T. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available