Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

19.07.2011
Should I skip my morning workout today so I can sleep longer? Or perhaps, since it is summer after all, indulge in an ice cold Mocha Frappucino with whipped cream and chocolate syrup drizzled over it instead of my regular herbal tea? Where should I take my date on our first dinner date? Should I go to graduate school? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

We all make numerous decisions everyday; unconsciously or consciously, sometimes doing it automatically with little effort or thinking and yet, at other times, we agonize for hours over another. Why do we make these choices – be it from deciding what to have for lunch or whether to say yes to that job offer halfway round the world. Sometimes we make choices on our own, and at other times, the choice is made for us.

Exercising control (by making choices) is adaptive and now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that the opportunity to exercise control may be adaptive because it activates the areas of the brain associated with rewards.

“Everything we do involves making choices, even if we don’t think very much about it. For example, just moving your leg to walk in one direction or another is a choice – however, you might not appreciate that you are choosing this action, unless someone were to stop you from moving that leg. We often take for granted all of the choices we make, until they are taken away,” says Mauricio Delgado at Rutgers University, who co-wrote the article along with post-doctoral fellow, Lauren Leotti.

In conducting their experiment, Leotti and Delgado used a simple task in which participants were presented with different cues – the choice and no choice cues. The choice cue represented an opportunity for choice, where participants could pick two options, and the no choice cue represented a condition where the computer would choose for them. In both the choice and no-choice conditions, participants had the opportunity to win money, though the outcomes were not actually contingent on their responses. Nonetheless, participants tended to perceive control over the outcomes when they were given the opportunity to exercise choice.

According to Leotti, the study demonstrated that the opportunity for a sense of control relayed by the choice cues (compared to no choice cues) recruits reward related brain circuitry. “It makes sense that we would evolve to find choice rewarding, since the perception of control is so adaptive. If we didn’t feel that we were capable of effectively acting on our environment to achieve our desired goals, there would be little incentive to face even the slightest challenge,” says Leotti.

The research into the perception of control is especially relevant from a social aspect as it is important and valuable to psychological well-being. “It is at the crux of so many psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse,” says Delgado who hopes to continue this line of research by investigating contextual influences on the value of choice in the near future. Furthermore, by understanding the neural bases of perception of control, it may be possible to target effective therapeutic treatments focusing on choice valuation and treat disruptions to perceived control, the root of many behavioral disorders.

So the next time you are faced with making a decision; from something as simple as choosing a blue or black tie for a business meeting to something as complex as putting down a deposit for a house (near your parents no less)…ask yourself – who’s in control?

For more information about this study, please contact: Mauricio R. Delgado at delgado@psychology.rutgers.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The Inherent Reward of Choice" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>