Risk Taking Differences on a Behavioral Task as a Function of Potential Reward/Loss Magnitude and Individual Differences in Impulsivity and Sensation Seeking

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Risk taking, Reward, Sensitivity to loss, Impulsivity, Sensation seeking, Analogue

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Although previous studies have shown that the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART; [Lejuez, C.W., Read, J.P., Kahler, C.W., Richards, J.B., Ramsey, S.E., Stuart, G.L., et al. (2002). Evaluation of a Behavioral Measure of Risk Taking: The Balloon Analogue Risk Test (BART). J Exp Psychol, Appl, 8, 75-84.; Lejuez, C., Aklin, W., Jones, H., Richards, J., Strong, D., Kahler, C.W., et al. (2003a). The Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) Differentiates Smokers and Nonsmokers. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 11, 26-33.; Lejuez, C., Aklin, W., Zvolensky, M., & Pedulla, C. (2003b). Evaluation of the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) as a Predictor of Adolescent Real-world Risk-taking Behaviors. J Adolesc, 26, 475-479.]) can be used to index real-world risk-taking behavior, questions remain regarding how performance on the task may vary as a function of reward/loss value and how this relationship may differ as a function of relevant personality traits. The present study examined BART score at 1, 5, and 25 cents per pump and how this relationship differed at low and high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking. Results indicated that riskiness on the BART decreased as reward/loss magnitude increased. Further, this decrease was most prominent in those low in Impulsivity/Sensation Seeking, whereas those high in Impulsivity/Sensation Seeking were largely insensitive to variation in reward/loss magnitude. Findings are discussed in terms of sensitivity to reward and loss, and how these processes can be studied further using the BART including extensions to cognitive modeling and the measurement of neurobehavioral functioning.

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Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, v. 93, issue 3, p. 258-262