Date of Award

2-7-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Sattelmeyer - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Tricia King

Abstract

The present study examines the relationship of emotional awareness to anticipatory psychophysiological markers and performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The IGT is a computerized card game that simulates real-life decisions through uncertainty of reward or punishment. The participant’s goal is to make advantageous card choices. Anticipatory somatic markers of physiological arousal, like electrodermal activity and heart rate, have been proposed to bias decisions in the IGT. The central hypothesis is that a participant’s emotional awareness is related to their ability to make advantageous decisions through biasing psychophysiological responses. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale was used to assess each participant’s emotional awareness. Less emotional awareness was associated with enhanced performance on the IGT. However, anticipatory physiological arousal (electrodermal activity and heart rate) and emotional awareness yielded no significant relationships. Findings suggest a need for further research on cognitive models, such as the expectancy valence model, in relation to decision-making.

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