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Do incidental positive emotions induce more optimistic expectations of decision outcomes? An empirical study from the perspective of event-related potential.

INTRODUCTION: Previous research has found that incidental emotions of different valences (positive/negative/neutral) influence risky decision-making. However, the mechanism of their influence on psychological expectations of decision outcomes remains unclear.

METHODS: We explored the effects of different incidental emotions on the behavioral, psychological, and electrophysiological responses of individuals in risky decision-making through a money gambling task using a one-way (emotion type: positive, negative, neutral emotions) between-subjects experimental design.

RESULTS: Individuals with positive emotions had significantly greater risk-seeking rates than those with negative emotions during the decision selection phase (p < .01). In the feedback stage of decision outcomes, individuals showed stronger perceptions of uncertainty in the decision environment under gain and loss feedback compared with neutral feedback, as evidenced by a more positive P2 component (i.e., the second positive component of an event-related potential). Positive emotions produced greater than expected outcome bias than neutral emotions, as evidenced by a more negative FRN component (i.e., the feedback-related negativity component).

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that positive emotions increase individuals' psychological expectations of decision outcomes. This study provides new empirical insights to understand the influence of incidental emotions on risky decision outcome expectations.

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