The role of emotion in decision making when information is framed positively and negatively

  • Hao Cheng

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Human decision-making is subject to a number of cognitive biases. One of the first biases to be identified is the way information in a decision problem is framed. It is now widely recognized that when information is framed positively (i.e. in terms of gains), people make risk-averse choices, whereas when information is framed negatively (i.e. in terms of losses), people make risk-seeking choices. Information framing is one of the most studied cognitive biases and its effects have been observed in decision problems ranging from medicine and finance to terrorism. More recently, researchers have focused on the role of emotion in the decision-making process. The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of emotion on the effects of information framing. To do this, I developed a technology-related information-framing problem about the reliability of internet service providers. Having observed strong information framing effects in my technology-related problem, I used Lerner et al.’s (2015) Emotion Imbued Choice (EIC) model to investigate the effects of integral and incidental emotions. Contrary to the predictions of the EIC, I found that the characteristics of options (in this case, positively framed or negatively framed information) did not affect integral emotions. In order to investigate the effects of incidental emotions, I developed a method to induce participants with fear and happiness by using the International Affective Picture System (IAPS).Consistent with the predictions of the EIC, I found that incidental emotions can moderate the effects of information framing (e.g.higher levels of incidental fear can lead participants to make risk-averse choices when information is framed negatively, even though negatively framed information usually leads to risk-seeking choices). The main theoretical contribution in this thesis comes from an amended EIC model that takes into consideration the effects of information framing. Other researchers could also use the method I used to induce emotions using the IAPS. This method was found to induce emotions more reliably than some existing methods, and as it does not involve language production, can be used with mixed-cultural and cross-cultural samples. There are also several practical implications of my research, which I consider in this thesis.
Date of Award17 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorThomas Baum (Supervisor) & Matthew Revie (Supervisor)

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