Updating beliefs under perceived threat

Garrett, Neil ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1440-472X, González-Garzón, Ana María, Foulkes, Lucy, Levita, Liat and Sharot, Tali (2018) Updating beliefs under perceived threat. The Journal of Neuroscience, 38 (36). pp. 7901-7911. ISSN 0270-6474

[thumbnail of Published_Version]
PDF (Published_Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (966kB) | Preview


Humans are better at integrating desirable information into their beliefs than undesirable information. This asymmetry poses an evolutionary puzzle, as it can lead to an underestimation of risk and thus failure to take precautionary action. Here, we suggest a mechanism that can speak to this conundrum. In particular, we show that the bias vanishes in response to perceived threat in the environment. We report that an improve- ment in participants’ tendency to incorporate bad news into their beliefs is associated with physiological arousal in response to threat indexed by galvanic skin response and self-reported anxiety. This pattern of results was observed in a controlled laboratory setting (Experiment I), where perceived threat was manipulated, and in firefighters on duty (Experiment II), where it naturally varied. Such flexibility in how individuals integrate information may enhance the likelihood of responding to warnings with caution in environments rife with threat, while maintaining a positivity bias otherwise, a strategy that can increase well-being.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Cognition, Action and Perception
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Social Cognition Research Group
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2021 01:33
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 14:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/81589
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0716-18.2018


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item