Effects of loss aversion on post-decision wagering: implications for measures of awareness

Conscious Cogn. 2010 Mar;19(1):352-63. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.11.002. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Wagering contingent on a previous decision, or post-decision wagering, has recently been proposed to measure conscious awareness. Whilst intuitively appealing, it remains unclear whether economic context interacts with subjective confidence and how such interactions might impact on the measurement of awareness. Here we propose a signal detection model which predicts that advantageous wagers placed on the identity of preceding stimuli are affected by loss aversion, despite stimulus visibility remaining constant. This pattern of predicted results was evident in a psychophysical task where we independently manipulated perceptual and economic factors. Changes in wagering behaviour induced by changes in wager size were largely driven by changes in criterion, consistent with the model. However, for near-threshold stimuli, a reduction in wagering efficiency was also evident, consistent with an apparent but potentially illusory decrease in awareness of the stimulus. These findings challenge an assertion that post-decision wagering provides a direct index of subjective awareness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Cognition*
  • Consciousness
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reward
  • Self Efficacy
  • Signal Detection, Psychological*
  • Uncertainty
  • Unconscious, Psychology