Take a stand on your decisions, or take a sit: posture does not affect risk preferences in an economic task

PeerJ. 2014 Jul 17;2:e475. doi: 10.7717/peerj.475. eCollection 2014.


Physiological and emotional states can affect our decision-making processes, even when these states are seemingly insignificant to the decision at hand. We examined whether posture and postural threat affect decisions in a non-related economic domain. Healthy young adults made a series of choices between economic lotteries in various conditions, including changes in body posture (sitting vs. standing) and changes in elevation (ground level vs. atop a 0.8-meter-high platform). We compared three metrics between conditions to assess changes in risk-sensitivity: frequency of risky choices, and parameter fits of both utility and probability weighting parameters using cumulative prospect theory. We also measured skin conductance level to evaluate physiological response to the postural threat. Our results demonstrate that body posture does not significantly affect decision making. Secondly, despite increased skin conductance level, economic risk-sensitivity was unaffected by increased threat. Our findings indicate that economic choices are fairly robust to the physiological and emotional changes that result from posture or postural threat.

Keywords: Decision-making; Economic lottery; Neuroeconomics; Posture; Prospect theory; Risk-sensitivity; Skin conductance; Threat.

Grant support

This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award (DARPA YFA D12AP00253) and by the National Science Foundation (SES 1230933 and CMMI 1200830). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.