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An influential theory about emotion and decision-making just failed a new test

24 January 2017

New study finds little evidence to support the influential Somatic Marker Hypothesis.

It's a common belief that to make optimal decisions we need to be more logical and less emotional, but a significant chunk of the evidence up to this point actually argues against this.

The Somatic Marker Hypothesis, based on the fact that patients who have damage to parts of their frontal cortex tend to perform poorly on the Iowa Gambling Task, has been extremely influential on research into risk-taking and decision-making.

Most findings supporting the hypothesis come from studies using this particular card game, however, and research outlined in Decision using a new method has failed to fully support our previous understanding.

Two British psychologists tested the Somatic Marker Hypothesis using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task and struggled to find evidence of participants' physiological reactions shaping their decision-making.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.


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