Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Risk-taking is an integral part of decision-making. We take small risks throughout our daily life, from not feeding a parking meter to asking someone on a date. Taking risks in moderation can be advantageous – nothing ventured, nothing gained – and is an important part of learning. In contrast, taking too much or even too little risk may be disadvantageous. Thus, we are interested in the extent to which individuals with psychosis pursue risky rewards. A major limitation of task-based risky decision-making in psychosis-spectrum samples is that cognitive impairments are not typically controlled for, or explicitly examined (Purcell et al., 2021). In the current talk, I will present evidence from the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), an uncertain-risk task where participants integrate information across trials to learn and weigh relative outcome probabilities. In this case, the likelihood that a balloon will explode. The BART is particularly interesting to examine because there is consistent evidence that individuals with psychosis pursue risky rewards less. However, given the complexities of the BART and confounds in psychosis samples, specific processes that contribute to this disadvantageous behavior remain poorly understood. Utilizing computational modeling, uncertain-risk decision-making behavior was parsed into subprocesses and examined for relationships with cognition, self-reported risk-specific processes, and non-risk specific personality traits to determine which of these external measures best explained group and individual differences in risk-taking.
View a recording of this session here.