Emotion regulation in strategic decision-making: A cognitive neuroscience approach
The emotional response to wins and losses influences decision-making. Emotion regulation refers to a family of techniques that modify the emotional response. The emotion regulation technique of “cognitive reappraisal” refers to an explicit attempt of a person to alter the meaning of a situation in order to increase or decrease the intensity of their feeling. For instance, an investor could attempt to view a risky financial decision from the perspective of a detached stock broker in order to feel calmer, if they believe that a calmer mind state will improve their decision-making ability. Indeed, reappraisal has been shown to influence risk-taking and the susceptibility to the way financial decisions are framed.
There is a controversy as to the degree to which applying reappraisal is cognitively costly. On the one hand, emotion regulation is considered an executive function, mediated like other executive functions by the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, as evidenced in research using functional neuroimaging, magnetic stimulation and neuropsychological methodologies. For example, cognitive reappraisal increases the amplitude of event-related potentials (ERPs, measured through electroencephalography) that are related to attention and working memory. Employing executive functions is costly in the sense that the same cognitive resources could be allocated elsewhere. On the other hand, although cognitive reappraisal is one of the more successful emotion regulation techniques, compared to emotional suppression, for example, it is thought to be less costly than suppression because it does not decrease memory for experiences that have been reappraised. Whether reappraisal is costly is important in an applied context, for example in research on organisational and strategic decision-making, because if reappraisal is costly individuals may elect not to apply it in particularly demanding situations, thereby decreasing the quality of their decisions.
The aim of this project is to chart the application of cognitive reappraisal by expert decision-makers – business professionals. Using a variety of cognitive neuroscience tools, and benefitting from access to a unique population of participants, we will investigate the following hypotheses:
(1) That the profile of emotion regulation techniques that experts habitually apply is different to that of non-experts controls.
(2) That cognitive reappraisal improves the quality of expert decision-makers.
(3) That applying cognitive reappraisal is less effortful for experts compared to controls.
(4) That the neural mechanisms that underlie reappraisal in experts is different to that in controls.
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Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology, neuroscience, or economics.
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Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.
Emotion Regulation and Economic Decision-Making
Cognitive reappraisal reduces the susceptibility to the framing effect in economic decision making
Implicit emotion regulation affects outcome evaluation
Emotion regulation and risk taking: predicting risky choice in deliberative decision making
Reappraisal and expected value modulate risk-taking