New Research On How Anxiety & Depression Affect Decision Making

Researchers from Berkeley had previously established that those with high levels of anxiety tend to make more mistakes when forced to make decisions in rapidly changing environments (in this case, during computerized assignments). Those without anxiety, on the other hand, faired much better when adjusting to change.

They theorized that this was the case because when people are faced with shifting circumstances, we often call upon what’s known as probabilistic decision making. This involves recalling previous outcomes from other situations to help us make a current decision. But for people with anxiety and depression, the tendency is to fixate on negative outcomes from the past, which makes it harder to make good decisions in the present.

The more emotionally resilient someone is, the more they can “focus on what gave them a good outcome, and in many real-world situations that might be key to learning to make good decisions,” explains study senior author and professor of neuroscience, Sonia Bishop in a news release.

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