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Reference Point Effect of Self Experience and Vicarious Experience during Outcome Evaluation: An ERPs Study Using Gambling Game
Author(s): 
Pages: 1147-1154
Year: Issue:  5
Journal: Psychological Science

Keyword:  outcome evaluationfeedback-related negativity(FRN)reference point effectvicarious experiencesself experiences;
Abstract: Risky decisions are common. In a wide range of decisions, people are often faced with risky contexts. In decisions that include both loss and benefit, an individual must have a quick appraisal on the post-decision feedback so as to adjust and improve subsequent decision-making processes. Such feedback is not only from one’s own experience, but also from vicarious experience by observing others’ outcomes. With the development of event-related potentials(ERPs), researchers are devoted to discovering and interpreting how appraisal of decision outcomes affects decision-making processes using ERPs, which helps to reduce the occurrence of irrational decisions.Recently, feedback-related negativity(FRN) has been found to be one of the components that is closely related to the appraisal of outcomes. The existing studies concerning the representation of FRN on the reference point effect are primarily based on the decision made by participants themselves. However, in daily life we may make decisions for ourselves and for others; decisions can be made not only by ourselves, but it can also be made by others. Recently, it is found that when participants are observing others to get negative feedback, the neural activity is similar to that of when participants get negative feedback from themselves. Such mirror processes indicate that FRN may be the same neural processes shared by selfreference and others-reference processes. Although few studies reported that FRN could be still evoked even when participants did not respond or observed others responding, little is known about whether the reference point effect of FRN still appears when the decider changes. This topic warrants further investigation. Through two experiments, the current research investigated the influence of betting(i.e., reference point) on brain activity in the processes of appraising one’s own decision(Experiment 1) and observing others’ decisions(Experiment 2). The "Bet-feedback" virtual gamble paradigm was used. Two bet conditions(0 Yuan vs. 50 Yuan) and four feedback conditions(+110 Yuan, +60 Yuan,-10 Yuan, and-60 Yuan) were set to formulate an absolute outcome(based on absolute zero point) and a relative outcome(based on the amount of the bet). In Study 1, participants were required to participate in the gambling task with EEG recorded, whereas in Study 2 participants were asked to observe others to gamble with EEG recorded. Results indicated that when subjects participated in the gambling task in person, the feedback of losing money evoked more negative FRN than winning money, and just one feedback(-10 Yuan) with bet evoked more negative FRN than without a bet. However, when observing others to gamble, either losing or wining money with a bet evoked more negative FRN than without a bet. In conclusion, when behavior is self-relevant, people are more sensitive to loss regardless of losing money with or without bet. However, when behavior is others-relevant, negative appraisal as a result from losing money is affected with or without bet; and at this moment monitoring does not reflect the feedback per se, but one’s own positive or negative emotion based on the outcome.
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