Awareness in Decision-Making: Implicit Influences or Measurement Biases?

Abstract

Can our decisions be guided by unconscious or implicit influ- ences? According to the somatic marker hypothesis, emotion- based signals guide our decisions in uncertain environments outside awareness. However, evidence for this claim can be questioned on the grounds of inadequate assessments of conscious knowledge. Post-decision wagering, in which participants make wagers on the correctness of their decisions, has been recently proposed as an objective and sensitive measure of conscious content. In the experiments reported here, we employed variations of a classic decision-making paradigm, the Iowa Gambling Task, in combination with wagering in order to investigate the role played by unconscious influences. We also examined biases that affect wagering strategies such as the definition of the optimal strategy and loss aversion. Our results demonstrate the inadequacy of post-decision wagering as a direct measure of conscious knowledge and also question the claim that implicit processes influence decision-making.


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