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Reduced loss aversion in subclinical negative symptoms and hypomania

By Federica Klaus, Justin Chumbley, Erich Seifritz, Stefan Kaiser, Matthias Hartmann-Riemer

Posted 29 Jan 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.27.20018119

Loss aversion is a behavioral phenomenon that describes a higher sensitivity to losses than to gains and influences decisions. Decision-making is altered in several psychopathologic states, such as in the two symptom dimensions of hypomania and negative symptoms. It has been argued that progress in our understanding of psychopathology requires a reorientation from the traditional, syndrome-based perspective to a more detailed study of individual constituent symptoms. In the present study, we made careful efforts to dissociate the relationship of loss aversion to negative symptoms, from its relationship with hypomanic symptoms. We selected a sample of 45 subjects from a healthy student population (n = 835) according to psychopathologic scales for hypomania and negative symptoms and stratified them into a control group (n = 15), a subclinical hypomania group (n = 15) and a negative symptoms group (n = 15). Participants completed a loss aversion task consisting of forced binary choices between a monetary gamble and a riskless choice with no gain or loss. We found, that these two symptom dimensions of hypomania and negative symptoms have a similar inverse relation to loss aversion as demonstrated by analysis of variance. Further research is warranted to describe the underlying psychological and neurobiological mechanisms at play. Given the partially opposing nature of hypomania and negative symptoms it further needs to be elucidated whether they are linked to loss aversion via dissociable mechanisms.

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