Anxiety and decision-making

Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 15;72(2):113-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.12.027. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Although the everyday decision-making of clinically anxious individuals is clearly influenced by their excessive fear and worry, the relationship between anxiety and decision-making remains relatively unexplored in neuroeconomic studies. In this review, we attempt to explore the role of anxiety in decision-making with a neuroeconomic approach. We first review the neural systems mediating fear and anxiety, which overlap with a network of brain regions implicated in studies of economic decision-making. We then discuss the potential influence of cognitive biases associated with anxiety upon economic choice, focusing on a set of decision-making biases involving choice in the face of potential aversive outcomes. We propose that the neural circuitry supporting fear learning and regulation may mediate the influence of anxiety upon choice and suggest that techniques for altering fear and anxiety may also change decisions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Economics, Behavioral
  • Fear / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Uncertainty