Personality and skin conductance responses to reward and punishment: Influence on the Iowa Gambling Task performance

Abstract

For several years now, the somatic aspect of emotions has been regarded as a major factor in the decision-making process. A large body of literature has investigated this issue, within the somatic marker hypothesis perspective, using the classical Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Many studies reported an influence of clinical and differential factors, including personality, on IGT performance. On the other hand, personality appears to modulate the emotional responses as a function of valence (i.e., responses to rewards vs. punishments). The present study investigated whether the influence of personality on the decision-making process might be mediated by differential emotional responsiveness. Skin conductance levels were recorded in 32 subjects while performing the IGT. The results showed that novelty seeking (NS) modulated the skin conductance responses to feedback, and both NS and harm avoidance (HA) influenced anticipative response development. We also found that NS tended to modulate the final score, beyond the influence of beneficial anticipative autonomic responses. The present data partially support the hypothesis that personality-related differential emotional responsiveness may modulate somatic marker development in a decision-making situation. On the other hand, personality influence on the performance was not entirely explained by these emotional differences.

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