Temporal and probability discounting are considered two fundamental constructs in economic science, as they are associated with phenomena with major societal impact and a variety of sub-optimal behaviors and clinical conditions. Although it is well known that positive and negative affective states bear important cognitive/behavioral consequences, the effect of emotional experiences on decision-making remains unclear due to the existence of many conflicting results. Inspired by the need to understand if and to what extent the current COVID-19 pandemic has determined changes in our decision-making processes by means of the unusual, prolonged experience of negative feelings, in this study we investigate the effect of anger, fear, sadness, physical and moral disgust on intertemporal and risky choices. Results show that all emotions significantly increase subjects’ preferences for immediate rewards over delayed ones, and for risky rewards over certain ones, in comparison to a “neutral emotion” condition, although the magnitude of the effect differs across emotions. In particular, we observed a more pronounced effect in the case of sadness and moral disgust. These findings contribute to the literature on emotions and decision-making by offering an alternative explanation to the traditional motivational appraisal theories. Specifically, we propose that the increased preference for immediate gratification and risky outcomes serves as a mechanism of self-reward aimed at down-regulating negative feelings and restore the individual’s “emotional balance”.

" I Feel Therefore I Decide": Effect of Negative Emotions on Temporal Discounting and Probability Discounting

Calluso Cinzia
;
Donato Carmela
2021-01-01

Abstract

Temporal and probability discounting are considered two fundamental constructs in economic science, as they are associated with phenomena with major societal impact and a variety of sub-optimal behaviors and clinical conditions. Although it is well known that positive and negative affective states bear important cognitive/behavioral consequences, the effect of emotional experiences on decision-making remains unclear due to the existence of many conflicting results. Inspired by the need to understand if and to what extent the current COVID-19 pandemic has determined changes in our decision-making processes by means of the unusual, prolonged experience of negative feelings, in this study we investigate the effect of anger, fear, sadness, physical and moral disgust on intertemporal and risky choices. Results show that all emotions significantly increase subjects’ preferences for immediate rewards over delayed ones, and for risky rewards over certain ones, in comparison to a “neutral emotion” condition, although the magnitude of the effect differs across emotions. In particular, we observed a more pronounced effect in the case of sadness and moral disgust. These findings contribute to the literature on emotions and decision-making by offering an alternative explanation to the traditional motivational appraisal theories. Specifically, we propose that the increased preference for immediate gratification and risky outcomes serves as a mechanism of self-reward aimed at down-regulating negative feelings and restore the individual’s “emotional balance”.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/769158
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