The effects of stress on risk-taking in young men: Autonomic correlates and the role behavioural activation and inhibition systems

Jason McIntyre (2010). The effects of stress on risk-taking in young men: Autonomic correlates and the role behavioural activation and inhibition systems Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Jason McIntyre
Thesis Title The effects of stress on risk-taking in young men: Autonomic correlates and the role behavioural activation and inhibition systems
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Richard Ronay
Total pages 58
Abstract/Summary Young men engage disproportionately in many high-risk activities including substance abuse, violence and dangerous driving. Often decisions to engage in such behaviour are made under stressful circumstances which have been shown to increase rates of risk tolerance. Research also suggests risk-taking behaviour is guided by biological systems which respond to both rewarding and threatening external stimulus. Individual difference (r-BIS and r-BAS scales), autonomic (SCR response to positive and negative stimuli) and neurological (reversal learning) measures were employed to determine whether stress induced changes in risk-taking propensity were mediated by biological response systems. As predicted, high r-BIS was associated with greater risk tolerance, indicative of a negative reinforcement pathway to increased risk-taking. Contrary to predictions however, no relationship was found between r-BAS and risk-taking. Stress was identified as a contributor to greater risk-seeking, however no evidence was found for a link between physiological response to stimuli and risk-taking behavior. Contrary to predictions, reversal learning performance was not affected by stress and was positively associated with risk-taking. Support emerged for adaptive risk-taking as an explanation for this finding. An activation theory of r-BIS and future research directions are discussed.

 
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2011, 09:56:46 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology