Sympathetic Arousal During Approach-Avoidance Decision- Making
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In response to emotional stimuli, individuals exhibit increased sympathetic nervous firings, which stimulate eccrine gland activation. This eccrine activity changes the electrical properties of the skin, or electrodermal activity (EDA). EDA has been used widely to assess autonomic arousal during various paradigms. Research has demonstrated how autonomic arousal (1) occurs during the processing or anticipation of emotional stimuli and (2) may inform the decision-making process. Our research focused on investigation of sympathetic arousal during decisions involving conflicting emotional outcomes, using an approachavoidance processing paradigm. In these situations, individuals are faced with two emotionally valenced outcomes, typically one positive and one negative. However, if the negative outcome is chosen, the individual is given a reward; by this the individual experiences emotional conflict – they can approach the conflict, and receive a reward while experiencing a negative emotion, or they can avoid the conflict by choosing the positive outcome, which is not associated with a reward. Results suggest that sympathetic arousal during these decisions is influenced by potential reward, degree of choice certainty, and an individuals aversion to negative experiences. Sympathetic arousal increased with larger potential reward, and individuals who expressed more uncertainty in their desired outcome exhibited larger emotional responses when making decisions.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Methods -- Results -- Discussion