Influence of negative emotion on the framing effect: evidence from event-related potentials

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Abstract

The framing effect is the phenomenon in which different descriptions of an identical problem can result in different choices. The influence of negative emotions on the framing effect and its neurocognitive basis are important issues, especially in the domain of saving lives, which is essential and highly risky. In each trial of our experiment, the emotion stimulus is presented to the participants, followed by the decision-making stimulus, which comprises certain and risky options with the same expected value. Each pair of options is positively or negatively framed. The behavioral results indicate a significant interactive effect between negative emotion and frame; thus, the risk preference under the positive frame can be enhanced by negative emotions, whereas this finding is not true under the negative frame. The event-related potential analysis indicates that choosing certain options under the positive frame with negative emotion priming generates smaller P2 and P3 amplitudes and a larger N2 amplitude than with neutral emotion priming. The event-related potential findings indicate that individuals can detect risk faster and experience more conflict and increased decision difficulty if they choose certain options under the positive frame with negative priming compared with neutral priming.

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