Background: Depressed patients are advised by clinicians to avoid making critical life decisions because their decision-making process might be influenced by their pathological mood states. In order to provide empirical support for this practice, we examined the influence of different mood states on risk-taking tendencies that govern one's decision during critical life decisions.
Method: By means of viewing a happy, neutral or sad movie clip, participants were induced to a respective mood. Risk-taking tendencies were then measured with decision tasks modified from the Choice Dilemmas Questionnaire (Kogan N., Wallach, M.A., 1964. Risk Taking: A Study in Cognition and Personality, Holt, New York).
Results: The findings (SS=54) indicated varying risk-taking tendencies in different mood states: individuals in induced depress mood were significantly more conservative in taking risk than those who were in neutral mood, whilst people in induced elated mood did not differ significantly from those in neutral mood. Correlation between mood-ratings with risk-taking tendency was positive (r=0.319, P<0.05).
Conclusions: People in induced depress mood would have a lower willingness to take risk than people in neutral and in positive mood. The manner in which decisions were influenced by negative mood was discussed. The asymmetry of influence of different mood states on risk-taking decisions was also discussed.