Sex-Dependent Effects of Emotional Subliminal Visual Stimuli on a Decision-Making Task


How do covert emotional stimuli affect decision-making? We investigated this question by exposing participants to subliminal visual stimuli during a computerized version of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to assess whether different categories of images (negative, neutral, or positive emotional evaluations) would influence decision-making behavior. Results did show sex-group interactions for IGT scores. In decision learning model simulations, it was found that different models were more appropriate to explain the task performance for different sex-group pairs. Overall, women showed more of an ability to integrate the additive negative signals from the stimuli to make more advantageous decisions than the men; consequently, this made the men more resilient to the negative effects of the positive stimuli on task-performance. When taken with existing research, the results indicate that subliminal emotional stimuli can have subtle, potentially sex-dependent, effects on behavior during the decision-making process.

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