Anxious people less likely to make risky decisions

People who are highly anxious exert more cognitive control when they make a risky decisions, and are more likely to avoid dangerous behaviours, compared with those who experience less anxiety, a study has found.

For a study published in the journal Psychophysiology, 20 high and 20 low anxious individuals played a risk game while researchers recorded their brain responses via electroencephalogram

The researchers, including Julius Maximilians University in Germany, found higher frontal midline theta power in highly anxious individuals during their decisions, which indicates more cognitive control. Higher frontal midline theta power in turn predicted less risky choices, researchers said.

"We showed that high anxious individuals also perceived risky situations as riskier, which is in line with the higher amount of cognitive control during their risk choices in the game. Obviously, they try to avoid negative outcomes," said Barbara Schmidt of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in Germany. "Our study provides a direct link between anxiety, frontal midline theta power, and risky decisions. That is exciting, as it means that frontal midline theta power directly affects behaviour," she said.


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