Loss aversion and hypoxia: Less loss aversion in oxygen-depleted environment

Stefania Pighin, Nicolao Bonini, Lucia Savadori, Constantinos Hadjichristidis, Federico Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Hypoxia, the deprivation of adequate oxygen supply, constitutes a direct threat to survival by disrupting cardiovascular or respiratory homeostasis and eliciting a respiratory distress. Although hypoxia has been shown to increase brain vulnerability and impair basic cognitive functions, only one study has examined its effect on decision-making. The present study examined the effect of mild hypoxia on individual's loss aversion, that is, the tendency to be more affected by losses than equal sized gains. A sample of 26 participants were asked to either accept or reject a series of mixed gambles once in an oxygen-depleted environment (14.1% oxygen concentration) and once in a normoxic environment (20.9% oxygen concentration). Each gamble involved a 50-50 chance of winning or losing specified amounts of money. Mild hypoxia decreased loss aversion: on average in the normoxic condition participants accepted gambles if the gain was at least 2.4 times as large as the loss, whereas in the oxygen-depleted condition participants accepted gambles if the gain was at least 1.7 times as large as the loss. Mild hypoxia may push individuals to be less cautious in daily decisions that involve a trade-off between a gain and a loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalStress
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Decision-making
  • Hypoxia
  • Loss aversion
  • Processive stressor
  • Systemic stressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Physiology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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