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Title: Self-Regulation and Emotion: Predicting Risky Choice
Tutor: Lauriola, Marco
Figner, Bernd
Keywords: Emotion
Risk Taking
Balloon Analogue Risk Task
Columbia Card task
Emotion Regulation
Regulatory Mode
Negative Outcome Focus
Issue Date: 28-Mar-2013
Abstract: All of the experiments presented in this dissertation focus on people's risk taking. In order to shed light on mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, I point out how emotions (i.e., anticipated emotions, integral emotions, anticipated regret, and emotion regulation strategies) and individuals' goal-oriented self-regulation (i.e., regulatory mode) affect risky behaviors. First – in the present dissertation – I introduce a comprehensive series of three studies (i.e., chapter 2) demonstrating whether and how individuals' regulatory modes affect individual differences in taking risky choices. I further focus on the role of anticipated regret to explain how it arises from regulatory mode, and in turn, affects risk taking. In keeping with this view, the present work sheds light on mechanisms underlying the relationships among decision-maker's regulatory mode, anticipated emotions and risk taking. Second (i.e., chapter 3), I introduce a relatively new theory studied in decision-making research (Emotion Regulation Theory; ER, Gross & John, 2003), demonstrating how ER strategies adopted from people predict risky choices occurring in deliberative processes (i.e., processes which predominantly involve anticipated emotions). But the present work does more than this. Indeed, the chapter 4 shows how situationally induced ER strategies affect risky choices occurring in decision processes related to high emotional arousal level (i.e., processes which predominantly involve integral emotion) as well as demonstrating how a personality variable (i.e., negative focus on potential outcome; see chapter 4, for more details) moderates the relationship between ER strategy and risk taking. To summarize – on the one hand – findings of the present studies shed light on emotional processes underlying human decisions under risk. On the another hand, they shed light on both regulatory mode theory and emotion regulation theory. More specifically, these findings extend our knowledge in five ways: First, they show how decision maker's self-regulatory mode (i.e., assessment and locomotion) affect people's risky choices (i.e., chapter 2). More specifically, I find that assessment mode – in comparison to locomotion mode – lead to decreased risk-taking level. It is worth nothing that, these tendencies have been shown in both habitual use and situationally induced of regulatory modes. Second, they show the trajectory of anticipated regret in making decisions under risk (i.e., chapter 2). In particular, I show that assessment mode increases the regret emotion, which in turn, decreases risk-taking level. By contrast, locomotion mode decreases the regret emotion, which in turn, increases risk-taking level. Third, they show that habitual use of emotion regulation strategies (i.e., cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression) predict individual differences in taking risk under deliberative processes (i.e., chapter 3). More specifically, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression were significantly correlated with risk taking, in opposite directions: Stronger habitual use of reappraisal was associated with increased risk taking while stronger habitual use of suppression was associated with decreased risk taking. Four, they show how situationally induced emotion regulation strategies affect people's risky choices which involve higher arousal levels (e.g., when occurring integral emotions; i.e., chapter 4). In particular, situationally induced suppression ER strategy—compared to reappraisal—significantly decreases risk taking only among people with a higher negative outcome focus. Five, based on chapter 4's findings it is showed that habitual use of negative outcome focus on risky choice moderates the expressive suppression's effect in human decisions under risk. The experiments presented in the following chapters offer solid evidence of the mediating role of anticipated regret between decision-maker's regulatory modes and risky behavior. Moreover, robust evidence is showed on mechanisms underlying the relationship between ER strategies and risky decision making. Thus, we can claim that the quality of a decisional output is not only influenced by integral or anticipated emotions, but also by the effectiveness the regulatory strategies employed to control the affective states.
Research interests: My research focuses on a) the relationships between emotion-regulation strategies and risky decision making. b) The role of emotions (i.e., anticipated and specific emotions) in making risky choices. c) Anticipated and post-decisional regret in making decisions. d) The interplay between self-regulatory orientations and risk-taking processes.
Personal skills keywords: Behavioral measures of risk
Mediation and moderation models

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