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 New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>