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What a Feeling: The Role of Immediate and Anticipated Emotions in Risky Decisions


Thomas Schlösser, Department of Economic and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Cologne.



The risk-as-feelings hypothesis argues that many risky decisions are not only predicted by anticipated emotions, as most consequentialistic decision making theories would presume, but also by immediate emotions. Immediate emotions refer to the “hot” visceral feelings people feel as they contemplate a specific decision option at the cusp of making a decision, whereas anticipated emotions are those emotions that people forecast that they will feel once they experience possible consequences of that decision. Four studies focused on the role of both types of emotions in decisions under risk and uncertainty. Decisions were substantively predicted by immediate emotional states beyond anticipated emotions or the subjective probability attached to outcomes. Thus, risky choices may be prompted, in part, by how people feel about the “riskless” portion of the decision—specifically, the various decision options they are contemplating—rather than the potential outcomes those options may produce. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.