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OS_36. Judgment and decision making

Sunday, October 02nd,   2011 [15:40 - 16:40]


OS_36.1 - Mental representations moderate the deliberation without attention effect in complex decision making

Abadie, M. 1 , Terrier, P. 1 & Villejoubert, G. 2

1 CLLE-LTC Institute, University of Toulouse, France
2 Psychology Research Unit, Kingston University, UK

Recent research suggests that when face a complex decision, people are likely to make better choice if their attention is distracted from the problem rather than focused on it while they deliberate on the best alternative (Dijksterhuis, 2004). The current study aimed to establish whether the nature of the decision task and the presentation format of the choice alternatives a) elicit different levels of mental representation and b) affect decision quality following a period of deliberation with or without attention. In a first experiment, we used a complex quantitative choice task. Results revealed that a detailed format allowed all participants to hold precise verbatim representations and resulted in better decision only when deliberation was conscious. In contrast, a global format led all participants to form fuzzier representations and resulted in improved decisions only when deliberation occurred without attention. In a second experiment, we used a qualitative version of the task. A global format resulted in fuzzier representations and led to better decisions than a detailed format. Altogether these findings suggest that the effect of deliberation type on decision performance is dependent upon the representation elicited by the task. Implications of dual-memory approaches for the study of decision-making will be discussed.

OS_36.2 - Mortality salience and morality: Thinking about death makes people less utilitarian

Trémolière, B. 1 , De Neys, W. 1, 2 & Bonnefon, J. 1, 2

1 CLLE. Toulouse. France
2 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Toulouse. France

According to the dual-process model of moral judgment, utilitarian responses to moral conflict draw on limited cognitive resources. Terror Management Theory, in parallel, postulates that mortality salience (being reminded of one’s own mortality) mobilizes these resources to suppress thoughts of death out of focal attention. Accordingly, we predicted that individuals under mortality salience would be less likely to give utilitarian responses to moral conflicts involving to harm one person in order to save several. A series of experiments shows that utilitarian responses to these non-lethal harm conflict scenarios are less frequent when participants are reminded of their mortality before reading the scenario. Effects of these reminders of death on utilitarian judgments are then analyzed in terms of cognitive processes by the use of a working memory load manipulation. Finally, these findings raise the question of whether private judgment and public debate about controversial moral issues might be shaped by mortality salience effects, since these issues (e.g., assisted suicide) often involve matters of life and death.

OS_36.3 - The effect of state shame and guilt on risky decision-making behaviour

Hancock, E. N. , McCloy, R. & Beaman, P.

Psychology Department, The University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

Affective state prior to and during decision-making plays an important role in determining the level of risk people are willing to take. However few studies have taken an emotion-specific approach to exploring this. This study explored the role of two negative emotions, shame and guilt, on risky decision-making behaviour. Fifty-four undergraduate psychology students were assigned to either a state shame induction, state guilt induction or a neutral control group, they then took part in a gambling task, designed to assess risky decision-making (the Iowa Gambling Task; Bechara, et al., 1994). The results showed that state guilt induction significantly increased risky decision-making in comparison to the neutral control group, however the shame induction had no effect on level of risky decision-making compared to control participants. These findings provide support for the key role played by current affective states in risky decision-making. They also highlight the importance of adopting an emotion-specific approach to this research area, as two arguably similar emotions were found to have very different effects on risky decision-making behaviour.

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