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Eager to place a bet: Can this eagerness help you sort out uncertainty?

Eager to place a bet: Can this eagerness help you sort out uncertainty?

Eager to place a bet

Somatic marker hypothesis, what is it? Will decisions be impacted by emotions? Can this eagerness help you sort out uncertainty? Jonathan Brycki discovered the human physiology and psychology’s intersection in terms of decision-making.

Essentially, gambling is when someone makes value-based decisions that involve uncertain circumstances. Calculating and understanding risk is essential to determine as to whether the possibility of the outcomes are worthy of one’s bet.

How is it that there are certain people that could make better decisions even under uncertainties as compared to others? A decision made towards a bet comes with various complexity. Therefore, it would be beneficial to someone that acquired good memory probabilistic thinking, superior arithmetic and more often, domain knowledge. Most of these cognitive skills can be learned through experience. However, what about those factors that can’t be learned?

The control illusion

Because we humans have the tendency of thinking, we are in control all the time and would influence us in overlooking both essential randomness, as well as factors that we trust are not in line with our direct influence.

There are various researches in regards to the factors that essentially work below our consciousness, which will influence our sophisticated decision making process and show a lot of interesting results.

However, as compared to the other articles I have written, this article is rather different as it explores the human physiology and psychology’s intersection with decision-making. Even though I have no mention of sports or odds, I am of the view that these research are applicable to a certain degree in sports betting.

Somatic Marker Hypothesis

The frontal lobe of our brain is equipped with the ability to make sophisticated decision-making. One of the research shows that individuals that damaged their prefrontal cortex have a disability in making an informed decision. Iowa Gambling Task assessment showed their bad performance with such a disability. Although they may have normal intellectual ability, they suffer from a decision-making deficit.

Participants that joined Iowa Gambling Task face evaluation towards their decision making process under uncertainty. You could try it and conduct the evaluation online. Read the next paragraph only when you have tried it.

When going through the Iowa Gambling Task, the participants will look at four decks of playing cards that are face down and each time, are required to select only one deck to show the top card. There are two chances of the chosen card. Either the card will reward the player with money or reduce the player’s bankroll. Each player will start with $2,000 bankroll.

The intention is to increase your bankroll to as much as possible or minimise losses. Most of the time, 50% of the four desks have reduction higher than the rewards. The remaining 50% of the four decks have rewards higher than reduction.

With the aforementioned paper, showing that players that suffer from prefrontal cortex damage have the inability to predict future negative or positive consequences. Results are showing that they are oblivious towards the future. This group of people are motivated with the immediate prospects and do not show any ability to learn from their past mistakes when it comes to making decisions under uncertainties. In another research, they found that this group of people would make bad decisions even under certainties.

Such traits are extremely unwanted especially when it comes to betting. For individuals that have psychopathic personalities’ decision deficits and people that depend on alcohol and drugs share similarity to those that have damaged prefrontal cortex in terms of their decision making. This shows that the function of the prefrontal cortex of our brain would massively affect the gambling outcomes.

This part of the brain as well controls the emotions’ experience and expression. Realising that the patient’s inability to express emotion due to the damaged prefrontal cortex, somatic marker hypothesis were proposed by a neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio.

Somatic markers are the body’s physical reaction that will notify the brain to recollect corresponding outcomes and past situations. Case in point, the human skin’s electrical conductance will increase when there is an existence of gamble, which forms as a certain stimuli.

Hence, such somatic markers will be linked to the historical situation’s outcome; therefore, future decisions will be affected by the recalled emotion’s particularly overloaded cognitive process.

Pure risk taking is different from somatic marker hypothesis. When high-risk takers that have normal frontal lobe make uncertain decisions, the existence of human skin’s electrical conductance will happen. Therefore, decision-making and risk taking may not be connected as it was suggested.

Essentially, making an informed decision under uncertain circumstances may not be related to risk aversion. A superior gambler may be better at overcoming their emotional response when challenged with decision uncertainties, and not backsliding towards higher cognitive processes. Furthermore, the somatic marker hypothesis suggests that someone makes decisions with the combination of various factors such as outcomes’ assessment, occurrence probability assessment and with their unconscious emotional responses.

Emotional influence impact

Would underlying emotional state influence decision making? The answer to that question is actually yes, therefore the real question is whether emotion aids or hinders decision-making. There are instances whereby decision making were affected by emotions, which can be seen in the effect of mood congruence judgement, showing that people will remember old memories and therefore making biased decisions according to those memories that are linked to their existing mood.

On the other hand, emotions are also an aid towards the process of decision making via engaging working memory and mindful attention. Different research has illustrated improved decision processing of people in negative and positive affective states.

Various studies examine the influence of feelings towards decision making established that it is how the feeling was dealt with and not what feeling that you are undergoing. If you can control your emotion and channel it to a right manner, it would reduce the potential of making a biased decision. There is one specific reason that indicated that investors in the stock market that underwent more intense feelings had made better decisions.

Can eagerness assist with the bet?

There is one research that demonstrated, hot states like hunger or emotion, can help sophisticated decision making under uncertainties. The research evaluated the impact of being in hunger would influence the people’s Iowa Gambling Task performance. Participants that are hungry score better than those that are not.

The paper showed that participants make a better judgement in accepting risk that would amount to better reward when they are in their hot state. This further states that when participants are in their hot state, they will rely greater on emotion when making a decision.

There are various factors that will affect our decision making process and it may be countless. Another finding is that performance will be worse in the Iowa Gambling Task if the participant has higher insulin and leptin concentration, more body fat percentage and body mass Index (BMI) that is higher. Who would have ever imagined that sophisticated decision-making is influenced by body composition?

A lot of factors influence good decision-making under uncertainties. What we could ascertain is that cognitive factors do affect, apart from probabilistic thinking, a good memory and understanding the risk.

However, there are factors that we understand less, which is the body composition, emotional state, and the function of the prefrontal cortex. There are also plentiful of factors out there which may not be known to us that affect our decision making process. Case in point, when a gambler make a decision under uncertainties, he may be going through plentiful of unknown processes that would influence his ability to run at optimum level.

By knowing the aforementioned factors in this article, it will enable you to easier identify potential resulting biases, and not rely on just cognitive processes which over time, could be improved. 

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