Objective: Change in risk tolerance is a feature of multiple psychiatric disorders and may contribute to adverse outcomes. We used a probability discounting (PD) task to measure risk-taking behavior among individuals with bipolar disorder (BPAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), schizoaffective disorder (SCAD), and schizophrenia (SCZ).
Method: A PD task was administered to 117 patients and 88 healthy controls (HCs), along with a cognitive battery using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, and relevant symptomatology scales. We examined differences in PD rates between diagnostic groups, and compared with HCs, while controlling for potential confounding factors including measures of cognitive functioning.
Results: Individuals with a diagnosis of BPAD or SCAD/SCZ prefer smaller, more guaranteed rewards rather than larger, less likely rewards as compared with healthy controls (p = .002 and p = .034, respectively). There was no effect of performance on cognitive tasks, antipsychotic treatment, or symptomatology on the rate of probability discounting.
Conclusion: This study supports the transdiagnostic measurement of risk-taking behaviors, even when such behaviors are not the primary area of psychopathology. Quantifying risk-taking may enable targeted therapeutic strategies across disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).