Trait anxiety and reasoning under uncertainty

  • Bensi L
  • Giusberti F
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Abstract

We explored the relationship between trait anxiety and reasoning under conditions of uncertainty. In our opinion, high trait anxious individuals (HTA) could have an implicit goal of uncertainty reduction. According to this, we predicted that in reasoning tasks HTA individuals would try to shorten the length of uncertain states by gathering less evidence prior to deciding, compared to low trait anxious ones (LTA). In Study 1 we employed several probabilistic reasoning tasks to examine the amount of data requested before making a decision. In Study 2, we investigated how evidence is weighed up and how hypotheses are tested. Results confirmed our prediction: HTA individuals gathered fewer pieces of evidence, thus jumping to conclusions, compared to LTA individuals. Groups did not differ in their reasoning if evidence was at their disposal from the start. Furthermore, the HTA group jumped to conclusions and provided incorrect answers in the hypothesis-testing task. We suggest that HTA individuals are particularly concerned with reducing uncertainty, even at the expense of correctness. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Information-gathering
  • Jump to conclusions style
  • Reasoning
  • Trait anxiety
  • Uncertainty

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Authors

  • Luca Bensi

  • Fiorella Giusberti

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