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Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Statistical Models


A commonly reported finding is that anxious individuals are less likely to make risky decisions. However, no studies have examined whether this association extends to death-related anxiety. The present study examined how groups low, moderate, and high in death-related anxiety make decisions with varying levels of risk. Participants completed a series of hypothetical bets in which the probability of a win was systematically manipulated. High-anxiety individuals displayed the greatest risk-taking behavior, followed by the moderate-anxiety group, with the low-anxiety group being most risk-averse. Experiment 2 tested this association further by framing outcomes in terms of losses, rather than gains. A similar pattern was observed with both positive and negative framing. In contrast to findings with trait anxiety, the present results suggest that death-related anxiety is positively associated with risky decision-making – an effect that holds regardless of how options are framed. Furthermore, the present study demonstrates that Bayesian modeling can provide very accurate predictions for economic decision-making behavior.