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Brain Processes in Self-Regulation: An Electroencephalography (EEG) Study

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Temporal discounting refers to our tendency to discount the value of future rewards. At the extreme, temporal discounting can give rise to detrimental myopic decision-making. Most studies examining the neural basis of temporal discounting in people have been performed using

Temporal discounting refers to our tendency to discount the value of future rewards. At the extreme, temporal discounting can give rise to detrimental myopic decision-making. Most studies examining the neural basis of temporal discounting in people have been performed using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). However, fMRI has relatively poor temporal resolution compared with the speed at which people make choices, so understanding choice dynamics using fMRI is difficult. We address the issue utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) to study cortical processes related to temporal discounting. The fMRI literature has found that a network of fronto-parietal brain regions plays an important role during the decision-making process. We aim to explore activity in these regions during the decision process and determine how cortical activity relates to choice parameters. Based on prior fMRI studies, we hypothesized that dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) may act as a regulator of dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and there will be an increase in dlPFC activity for more difficult decisions. We also hypothesized that neural activity may be directly related to the temporal discount rate we estimate behaviorally. We utilized regression analysis to determine the relationship. The results found supported our hypotheses. This study may open the door to a better understanding of the dynamic of brain regions while performing a temporal discounting task.

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2017-05

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Risky Decision-Making Behavior: An Analysis of The Gambler's Fallacy and The Near-Miss Effect

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There are two common cognitive distortions present in risky decision-making behavior. The gambler's fallacy is the notion that a random game of chance is potentially biased by previous outcomes, and the near-miss effect is the overestimation of the probability of

There are two common cognitive distortions present in risky decision-making behavior. The gambler's fallacy is the notion that a random game of chance is potentially biased by previous outcomes, and the near-miss effect is the overestimation of the probability of winning immediately after barely missing a win. This study replicated a portion of the methods of Clark et al. (2014) in an attempt to support the presence of these two fallacies in online simulated risky decision-making tasks. One hundred individuals were recruited and asked to perform one of two classic gambling tasks, either predict the outcome of a dichromatic roulette wheel or spin a simplified, two-reel slot machine. An analysis of color predictions as a function of run length revealed a classic gambler's fallacy effect in the roulette wheel task. A heightened motivation to continue playing after a win, but not a near or full miss, was seen in the slot machine task. How pleased an individual was with the results of the previous round directly affected his or her interest in continuing to play in both experiments. These findings indicate that the gambler's fallacy is present in online decision-making simulations involving risk, but that the near-miss effect is not.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Service-Related Conditions and Decision-Making in Military Veterans

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An increasing number of veterans are transitioning from military service to college. Critical to academic success is the process of decision-making, which previous research has found to be influenced by a variety of factors including anxiety and working memory (WM).

An increasing number of veterans are transitioning from military service to college. Critical to academic success is the process of decision-making, which previous research has found to be influenced by a variety of factors including anxiety and working memory (WM). Many service-related conditions often influence anxiety and WM, and given the high prevalence of these conditions among veterans, the present study aimed to analyze the effects of working memory and anxiety on decision-making behavior in U.S. Military Veterans. Participants completed a large test battery including tasks assessing WM skills (Symmetry Span Task), anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory), and decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task). The study results indicated that WM and anxiety both play roles in decision-making performance in young military veterans. High anxiety is related to increased avoidance of adverse outcomes in decision-making for U.S. Military Veterans, while lower working memory span is associated with greater risk-taking behavior. This study provides both functional and clinical implications into areas of possible intervention that need to be assessed in military veterans, as well as modifications to these assessments that need to be made in order to appropriately measure decision-making behavior. Future work will be done in order to more effectively analyze the adverse impacts of service-related conditions and the ways in which intervention can be implemented in order to minimize these effects.

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Created

Date Created
2018-05

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Opting Out of Options: An IMT Approach to Choice Optimization

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The purpose for creating this thesis project is to discover the effects that options have on consumer behavior and satisfaction, and to determine whether or not more options are a good thing. In exploring these questions, Information Measurement Theory (IMT),

The purpose for creating this thesis project is to discover the effects that options have on consumer behavior and satisfaction, and to determine whether or not more options are a good thing. In exploring these questions, Information Measurement Theory (IMT), a theory founded by Dr. Dean Kashiwagi which relies on understanding natural laws to help minimize decision-making and risk, was utilized to draw conclusions. IMT illustrates that any given situation can only have one unique outcome, and minimizing decision-making in turn leads to reduced stress. The more information an individual has for the given situation, the better he/she can predict the outcome. The concepts of IMT, specifically the ideal that more decision-making leads to higher stress, were utilized to illustrate that more options naturally leads to more decisions and as a result more decision-makers will feel greater stress and less satisfaction. To conduct this research we explored two different segments of consumer markets. The first branch of our research was comprised of analyzing the differences in operations and menu structures of different fast food chains, most specifically In-N-Out and McDonald's and how these differences affect customer satisfaction. The other branch of our research involved reviewing phone case ratings based on Amazon reviews for a number of different phone types with varying popularity to gauge consumer satisfaction. Our results found that while both In-N-Out and McDonald's are successful companies, In-N-Out ranked consistently higher in customer satisfaction. Furthermore, a large portion of this satisfaction can be attributed to In-N-Out's simplistic menu structure which limits the amount of options and therefore decisions that a customer must make. Similarly, our study of phone cases found that for phone models where less case options are offered, customers rated their cases higher on a scale of 1-5 stars regardless of brand or the number of reviews. Through a combination of IMT and our research we were able to conclude that less options does indeed lead to higher consumer satisfaction.

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Date Created
2016-05

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The Influence of the ""War on Cancer"" Metaphor on Illness Perception and Treatment Decision

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The purpose of this thesis study was to examine whether the "war on cancer" metaphor influences cancer perception and treatment decision. A total of 249 undergraduates (152 females) from a large southwestern university participated in an online survey experiment and

The purpose of this thesis study was to examine whether the "war on cancer" metaphor influences cancer perception and treatment decision. A total of 249 undergraduates (152 females) from a large southwestern university participated in an online survey experiment and were either randomly assigned to the control condition (N=123) or to the war prime condition (N=126). Participants in the control condition did not receive the metaphor manipulation while participants in the war prime condition received the subtle "war on cancer" metaphor prime. After the prime was given, participants read a scenario, answered questions related to the situation, and responded to demographic questions. The results suggested that, compared to participants in the no-prime condition, participants exposed to the war metaphor were more likely to (a) view melanoma as an acute disease, (b) choose chemotherapy over molecular tests, and (c) prefer more aggressive treatment. These findings illustrated the unintended consequences of the "war on cancer" slogan. The results were encouraging and in the predicted direction, but the effect size was small. The discussion section described possible future directions for research.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Justice as Fairness: Political Empathy’s Effect on Decision Making

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Inspired by John Rawls and his life's work Justice as Fairness, I sought to measure how much political empathy a person has and then compare this to decision-making styles in search of any relation between the two. Political empathy is

Inspired by John Rawls and his life's work Justice as Fairness, I sought to measure how much political empathy a person has and then compare this to decision-making styles in search of any relation between the two. Political empathy is a term to refer to one's willingness to utilize governmental policy to help those who are the neediest because of the understanding that humans deserve equal treatment since no one is more human than anyone else. Because of current research I found that I can test political empathy because of empathy’s correlation with political ideology; specifically, that those who are more liberal have more empathy. I test participant’s ideology in a normal setting and then present them with the concept of Rawls’ Original Position to see if they shift more one way when presented with this idea which is supposed to make them think more empathetically.<br/>I have two hypothesis that I cover: first, that more people will shift in a more liberal direction between the two tests, and second, that those who have more political empathy make political decisions based more on emotion rather than facts and reason. I tested decision-making through a myriad of tests within a focus group so I could get multiple angles at the issue. My first hypothesis was proven incorrect and while I didn’t have enough participants in my focus groups to make a clear determination, it didn’t look like there was any correlation between political ideology and decision-making styles.

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Created

Date Created
2021-05

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Effects of Affect Framing and Future Self-Connectedness on Current Decision-Making

Description

People generally struggle with making good decisions for their well-being (Hershfield, 2019; Hershfield & Bartels, 2018). One reason for this might be that people struggle with connecting to their future selves. Prior research suggests that future self-connectedness predicts better decisions.

People generally struggle with making good decisions for their well-being (Hershfield, 2019; Hershfield & Bartels, 2018). One reason for this might be that people struggle with connecting to their future selves. Prior research suggests that future self-connectedness predicts better decisions. This study examined if feeling more positive or negative helps people connect more to their future self and if this, in turn, helps people make better decisions. Participants read a scenario in which they are presented with two decisions, one having a short-term benefit/long-term cost and the other having a short-term cost/long-term benefit. Either neutral affect framing, positive affect framing, or negative affect framing was emphasized in the scenario depending on the condition. Our study did not find that positive affect framing and negative affect framing enhanced future self-connectedness. Neither did we find that positive affect framing and negative affect framing influenced decision-making.

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Created

Date Created
2021-05

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Inference of Value through Social Influence And Self-Preference

Description

Social proof and mismatch of self-preference have been assumed to play an important role in the inference of value. They can be influential factors when it comes to decision-making in a mate-selection environment. In this thesis study, participants took an

Social proof and mismatch of self-preference have been assumed to play an important role in the inference of value. They can be influential factors when it comes to decision-making in a mate-selection environment. In this thesis study, participants took an online survey in the form of a dating website. They answered a series of questions about the traits they would like to see in a potential mate. They were then presented with four potential mates and asked to rank them by their preferences. The results show that participants most preferred the potential mate with a high social proof and a low mismatch of self-preference and least preferred the potential mate with a low social proof and a high mismatch of self-preference. When comparing just social proof and mismatch of self-preference, there was not an interaction effect between the two. I conclude that even though social proof is a powerful influencing factor by itself, it did not have the power to trump the mismatch of self-preference.

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Date Created
2012-12

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How does the weather forecast impact decision-making in Phoenix, AZ?

Description

Surveys have shown that several hundred billion weather forecasts are obtained by the United States public each year, and that weather news is one of the most consumed topics in the media. This indicates that the forecast provides information that

Surveys have shown that several hundred billion weather forecasts are obtained by the United States public each year, and that weather news is one of the most consumed topics in the media. This indicates that the forecast provides information that is significant to the public, and that the public utilizes details associated with it to inform aspects of their life. Phoenix, Arizona is a dry, desert region that experiences a monsoon season and extreme heat. How then, does the weather forecast influence the way Phoenix residents make decisions? This paper aims to draw connections between the weather forecast, decision making, and people who live in a desert environment. To do this, a ten-minute survey was deployed through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) in which 379 respondents were targeted. The survey asks 45 multiple choice and ranking questions categorized into four sections: obtainment of the forecast, forecast variables of interest, informed decision making based on unique weather variables, and demographics. This research illuminates how residents in the Phoenix metropolitan area use the local weather forecast for decision-making on daily activities, and the main meteorological factors that drive those decisions.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Scientific Detail and Juror Decision-Making in Capital Scenarios

Description

By providing vignettes with manipulated scientific evidence, this research examined if including more or less scientific detail affected decision-making in regards to the death penalty. Participants were randomly assigned one of the two manipulations (less science and more science) after

By providing vignettes with manipulated scientific evidence, this research examined if including more or less scientific detail affected decision-making in regards to the death penalty. Participants were randomly assigned one of the two manipulations (less science and more science) after reading a short scenario introducing the mock capital trial and their role as jury members. Survey respondents were told that a jury had previously found the defendant guilty and they would now deliberate the appropriate punishment. Before being exposed to the manipulation, respondents answered questions pertaining to their prior belief in the death penalty, as well as their level of support of procedural justice and science. These questions provided a baseline to compare to their sentencing decision. Participants were then asked what sentence they would impose \u2014 life in prison or death \u2014 and how the fMRI evidence presented by an expert witness for the defense affected their decision. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were used to identify how the level of scientific detail affected their decision. Our intended predictor variable (level of scientific detail) did not affect juror decision-making. In fact, the qualitative results revealed a variety of interpretations of the scientific evidence used both in favor of death and in favor of life. When looking at what did predict juror decision-making, gender, prior belief in the death penalty, and political ideology all were significant predictors. As in previous literature, the fMRI evidence in our study had mixed results with regards to implementation of the death penalty. This held true in both of our manipulations, showing that despite the level of detail in evidence intended for mitigation, jurors with preconceived notions may still disregard the evidence, and some jurors may even view it is aggravating and thus increase the likelihood of a death sentence for a defendant with such brain abnormalities.

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Date Created
2016-12