Wednesday, 07 June 2017 18:39

Anxious people worry about risk, not loss Featured

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Life is a series of choices. Every time you make a decision, there is a possibility that things won’t go as expected (risk) or that something bad will happen (loss). Aversion to risk and loss have powerful influences on how we make decisions. In a new paper in Biological Psychiatry, co-senior authors Dr. Jonathan Roiser and Dr. Oliver Robinson, both of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, and colleagues studied the influence of risk and loss aversion in people with anxiety, a disorder characterized by debilitating avoidance behavior and difficulties making daily-life decisions.

Anxious people might, for example, avoid driving over bridges because they are concerned that the bridge might collapse, explained first author Dr. Caroline Charpentier also of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. “But is this because they overestimate the risk of this happening (i.e., a difference in risk aversion), or because the devastating consequences loom larger (i.e., a difference in loss aversion)?” The findings of the new study indicate that it may be more about risk than loss.
“This paper uses a sophisticated computational approach to shed light on why anxiety can be so disabling,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “Nearly all life decisions involve risk. It appears that anxious people are hypersensitive to these risks, influencing their emotions, thoughts and behavior.”
In the study, 25 unmedicated patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and 23 healthy participants performed a gambling task to assess decision making. The design of the task addressed a significant omission of previous risky decision-making studies, the independent contributions of risk aversion (from uncertainty about the outcome) and loss aversion (from a disproportionate focus on potential losses). In the task, participants had to make decisions between a safe and risky option. Changing up the gamble — such as a sure gain versus a riskier higher gain or a potential gain versus a potential loss — allowed the researchers to separately assess risk and loss aversion.
Anxious people had similar levels of loss aversion to healthy people, but showed enhanced risk aversion. “In other words, everyone is loss averse, but anxious people are more reluctant to take risks than non-anxious people,” said Dr. Charpentier.
The findings refine the understanding of altered cognitive processing in anxiety disorder by disentangling the contributions of risk and loss aversion. Similar levels of loss aversion contrast previous assumptions that people with anxiety dwell excessively on potential negative outcomes, and instead suggest that aversion to taking risks drives avoidance behavior observed in anxious people.
The study takes an important step toward determining the best approach for cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce avoidance behavior in anxiety disorders. “It suggests that we should focus on encouraging anxious individuals to increase their tolerance of risk rather than dampening down their sensitivity to negative outcomes,” said Dr. Charpentier.


Source: Elsevier
Full bibliographic information:
The article is "Enhanced Risk Aversion, But Not Loss Aversion, in Unmedicated Pathological Anxiety," by Caroline J. Charpentier, Jessica Aylward, Jonathan P. Roiser, and Oliver J. Robinson

Read 300 times

TheSynapse Videos

0
0
0
0
0
0

Latest news

Highlights

  • Postgrad course on exercise as medicine is being proposed

    Dear prospective applicant,

    A proposal for a postgrad course on physical activity (PA) as a therapy for non-communicable diseases is currently being evaluated. Hereunder, a two-question survey is being forwarded for your attention in order to assess whether the idea sounds appealable or not.

    Proposed award

    M.Sc in Therapeutic Physical Activity (TPA), with postgrad certificate (PgC) and postgrad diploma (PgD) exit routes

    Proposed specialisation titles[1]

    Holders of PgC, TPA can claim the title of: ‘Clinical exercise prescriber’.

    Holders of PgD, TPA can claim the titles of: ‘Advanced exercise prescriber’ or ‘Clinical and public health exercise prescriber’.

    Holders of M.Sc, TPA can claim the title of: ‘Physical activity - health specialist’.

    Are you sure you know why physical activity is so important?

    Everyone is aware that physical inactivity is a major health concern but, do you know that through the right type of exercise you can prevent or treat at least 35 chronic conditions? In 2007 the American College of Sports Medicine officially declared an important statement: ‘Exercise is medicine’. Moreover, health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) is important in today’s world not only in view of improving health and wellbeing but also for its economic values. For example, a lifestyle intervention involving 150 minutes of weekly PA was scientifically shown to be significantly more effective than the administration of metformin.

    Possibilities of further career development in exercise prescription

    Exercise prescription, that is, being qualified to professionally recommend the right type of exercise for health does not stop on a one-to-one basis. Do you think you are qualified to: (a) conduct research on PA interventions, and (b) develop, implement and evaluate community or population programmes involving PA strategies? Unfortunately, many wide-scale programmes that are implemented undergo no evaluation to determine how they have worked or what their effects may be. Have you ever imagined the possibility of attending a tertiary course which would be designed to: (a) give you the ability to design a project for the generation of new knowledge and be able to publish it internationally, or (b) train you on how to evaluate wide-scale interventions and how to apply strategies to sustain their continuities?


    A glimpse of the proposed programme of studies

    Intended for:

    The programme of studies is aimed at a wide and diverse cohort of students wishing to pursue any careers in HEPA sectors mainly: exercise prescription; health promotion (policies and practice); general health and fitness industry; and to further their studies (e.g. PhD). It can also serve as an adjunct to enrich one’s knowledge of his / her established profession or career. Examples include: medical practitioners; pharmacists; nurses; physiotherapists; nutritionists; public health specialists; sport medicine specialists; sport psychologists; teachers of physical education (PE); coaches; gym instructors; and personal trainers. Fitness and sport enthusiasts are also encouraged to apply.

    Duration:

    Three years part-time leading to an M.Sc in PA as an effective therapy, with postgrad certificate and postgrad diploma exit routes after the first and second years respectively.

    Mode of delivery:

    Seventy per cent will be delivered online and the rest of the thought units will be offered on a once weekly two-hour evening basis starting at 18.00hrs.

    Admission criteria:

    You should provide evidence of higher educational qualification(s) - normally, a diploma or a degree related to health and / or PA / sport. An award in PE is also ideal. Mature students without these basic qualifications would be required to present evidence of experience related to PA and health.

    Mode of assessment:

    Units will be assessed through the submission of coursework. These will vary from short assessments to long essays. If you would like to progress at Masters’ level, a traditional dissertation or paper in the format for journal publication and a final presentation (in the form of slides or poster) of your research findings will have to be undertaken.

    Round-up

    Unlike other under- and postgrad courses which only cover a fraction from the whole science of HEPA, this comprehensive programme of studies would lead to a specialization specifically on TPA. For careers in promotion, prescription and research of PA, the proposed programme of studies is a must.

    Important notice

    All the above information is subject to change and would eventually have to be approved by the Programme Validation Committee of the University of Malta. Needless to say, your feedback in the next two questions is extremely important.

    Yours in health & exercise,

    Charles Micallef B.Pharm (Hons), M.Sc PAPH (Staff)                                                8th August 2017

    The two questions hereunder.

    1. In view of the above information, would you be interested in applying for this particular postgrad course leading to a specialisation in physical activity with respect to health, that is, a qualification that gives you the right to prescribe exercise for health, even at population levels?

    Yes or No: 

    1. What would you change from or suggest to what is being proposed?

    Please state your name & surname:

    Your current job / profession:

    Please save your changes and forward your reply to Charles Micallef on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.


    [1] In order to professionally recommend exercise for health, you may need to be registered in the appropriate regulatory board and be in possession of a warrant to operate with the respective titles.

    University of Malta

    Written on August 19, 2017
  • Take up the Creative Challenge and win with Servier!

    servier challenge

     

    Interested in helping us explain to patients the pathophysiology of Chronic Venous Disease whilst also learning more about it  yourself? Join the group by clicking the link below for further info!

    Written on April 27, 2017 Read more...

Links

Join

Connect with other Medical Professionals on fb in a closed facebook group

Login

Template Settings

Theme Colors

Cyan Red Green Oranges Teal

Layout

Wide Boxed Framed Rounded
Patterns for Layour: Boxed, Framed, Rounded
Top
We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…