Dual Process Models of Decision Making: An fMRI Investigation of Framing Effects and Individual Differences




Murch, Kevin Bertrand

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While the manifestation of decisions can be explained in several ways, dual-process models provide a unique purview into the relationship between automatic and controlled components of the decision making process. Although dichotomies in processing can be observed utilizing different experimental paradigms, framing effects provide a unique reflection of these dichotomies. Framing effects have been studied behaviorally for quite some time; however, only recently have investigators begun to examine the neurobiological basis for these effects. Additionally, as these effects mirror dual-process accounts of decision making, the examination of concurrent task demands and individual differences in the manifestation of framing effects could serve to inform dual-process models. The current studies examined two different framing paradigms in the context of experimental manipulations, perspective taking and emotional priming, which were intended to facilitate processing within the subsystems of a dual-process account of social cognition. Framing manipulations included both a previously established risky-choice framing paradigm and a novel, socially relevant attribute framing paradigm. In addition to behavioral studies, an fMRI investigation of the attribute framing paradigm was conducted to examine the neural correlates associated with the observed framing effect within the neurobiological framework of the X- and C-System model of social cognition. Finally, the current studies sought to examine the role that individual differences (e.g., personality, intelligence, need for cognition, cognitive reflection, impulsivity, and attachment style) play in susceptibility to framing phenomena. Results indicated the framing manipulations utilized in these studies were successful in eliciting a bias in decision making behavior. The effects of additional experimental manipulations were mixed, with some evidence for influences on the manifestation of the framing effects. fMRI data generally showed changes in brain activity in a manner consistent with the neurobiological divisions included within the X-and C-System model and provided preliminary evidence suggesting differences in the way frames and counterframes are processed. Individual differences, both in terms of psychological constructs and brain activity, appeared to be associated with susceptibility to framing phenomena. In total, the current series of studies provide several novel contributions to the existing literature on framing effects, and by extension, dual-process accounts of decision making.

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