Emotionally resilient people better at exercising sound judgment when things get chaotic.Science Daily
The probabilistic decision-making abilities of more than 300 individuals, including people with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, were assessed by UC Berkeley researchers. People, even without being aware of it, use the positive or negative effects of their previous acts in probabilistic decision making to guide their current decisions. The researchers found that when conducting a computerized task that simulated a dynamic or rapidly evolving environment, the study participants whose symptoms intersect with both anxiety and depression—such as worrying a lot, feeling unmotivated or not feeling good about themselves or about the future—have the most difficulty adapting to changes.
Conversely, participants in the emotionally resilient research, with few, if any, signs of anxiety and depression, learned to respond more easily to changing situations based on the steps they had previously taken to obtain the best results possible.
86 men and women aged between 18 and 50 were interested in the first experiment. The category included individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, individuals with signs of anxiety or depression but no formal diagnosis of these conditions, and individuals with neither depression nor anxiety. Study participants played a game on a computer screen in a laboratory environment in which they repeatedly chose between two shapes — a circle and a square. One form would produce a mild to moderate electric shock if chosen, and another would deliver a monetary prize.
In the second experiment, 147 U.S. adults, with varying degrees of anxiety and depression, were recruited and remotely provided the same task through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing marketplace. This time, on the computer, they chose between the red and yellow squares. They were also earning monetary incentives, but they lost money instead of being penalized with electric shocks.
The findings echoed those of the in-laboratory results. Overall, having symptoms common to both anxiety and depression projected that, relative to their emotionally resilient counterparts, they would struggle more with making sound decisions in the face of changing situations, irrespective of whether they were praised or punished for getting things right or wrong.
Categories: Mental Health