Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception.

Description: Imagine that you were tasked, perhaps by a large insurance company you were working for, with coming up with a way of measuring individual risk -taking propensity. Some companies are doing a version of this already by rewarding drivers who do not have any accident claims with lower rates. Some companies are also looing at giving clients the option of downloading phone apps that will run in the background on their phones when they are driving and record and report on things like speed relative to speed limits, abrupt swerves or braking etc. all of which could also lead to rate reductions, if the data reflected safe driving. What you are being asked to do is come up with a one time (but perhaps repeatable) individual measure (perhaps a survey?) that would produce a number or set of numbers the predict the level of risk taking of the individuals who complete it. What would you measure? When would you measure it? Is there something you could measure while the individuals you were assessing are asleep, yes, asleep? Have a read through the linked article to see one possible solution.

Source: Our sleep shows how risk-seeking we are, ScienceDaily.

Date: March 22, 2022

Image by pexels from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/03/220322122801.htm

So, were your surprised by the findings of the search discussed in the linked article? Do not worry, if you were concerned, … no insurance company that I am aware of is currently requiring a sleep scan of its new clients. There are a number of logistical and ethical issues to be considered in relation to any consideration of possible applications of this sort of research. Largest among them is that while there is, of course, a relationship between things like risk-taking behaviour and brain activity/function we should think hard about whether the brain function involved is a correlative indicator or a possible place where influence could be exerted. Treating it as an indicator may well be putting far too much weight on it as a predictor to be acted upon in the provision or the withholding of insurance. That is an ethical issue, right? And if that IS an ethical issue then moving to manipulate activity in that area of the brain would be an even larger ethical deal, wouldn’t it? Interesting though!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the research discussed in the article look at in the way of prefrontal lobe function?
  2. How are the prefrontal lobes involved in risk-taking mediation?
  3. What are some of the ethical issues that would need to be seriously discussed and managed if this research were to be in any way applied to risk related cost management?

References (Read Further):

Mirjam Studler, Lorena R.R. Gianotti, Katharina Koch, Jan Hausfeld, Leila Tarokh, Angelina Maric, Daria Knoch. Local slow-wave activity over the right prefrontal cortex reveals individual risk preferences. NeuroImage, 2022; 253: 119086 Link

Raine, A., Lencz, T., Bihrle, S., LaCasse, L., & Colletti, P. (2000). Reduced prefrontal gray matter volume and reduced autonomic activity in antisocial personality disorder. Archives of general psychiatry, 57(2), 119-127. Link

Knoch, D., & Fehr, E. (2007). Resisting the power of temptations: The right prefrontal cortex and self‐control. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1104(1), 123-134. Link

Schonberg, T., Fox, C. R., & Poldrack, R. A. (2011). Mind the gap: bridging economic and naturalistic risk-taking with cognitive neuroscience. Trends in cognitive sciences, 15(1), 11-19.  Link

Floden, D., Alexander, M. P., Kubu, C. S., Katz, D., & Stuss, D. T. (2008). Impulsivity and risk-taking behavior in focal frontal lobe lesions. Neuropsychologia, 46(1), 213-223. Link

Fecteau, S., Pascual-Leone, A., Zald, D. H., Liguori, P., Théoret, H., Boggio, P. S., & Fregni, F. (2007). Activation of prefrontal cortex by transcranial direct current stimulation reduces appetite for risk during ambiguous decision making. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(23), 6212-6218. Link