Stress and Reliance Decisions [video]
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The focus of the current study is to examine reliance on automation using a decision making framework. Specifically, the decision to rely on automation under stressful conditions. Stress consumes executive resources (Hermans et al., 2014), and because of this, prompts a shift from analytic to heuristic-based decision making (Margittai et al., 2016). In this mode of processing, this heuristic-based decision making might lead to an increased reliance on automation, even when it may be inappropriate (e.g., low system reliability). The reliability of a system is an important factor in reliance decisions (Hoff & Bashir, 2015). However, when under stress, there may not be enough executive resources needed to incorporate feedback about a system�s reliability. Therefore, actual reliability that is inconsistent with expected reliability may not be noticed and not incorporated into subsequent reliance decisions. Inconsistent reliability, operationalized as a difference in expected versus actual reliability, will be manipulated in this study to assess whether feedback about reliability is noticed and incorporated into subsequent decision making. Furthermore, motivation will be manipulated to investigate how it might moderate the effect of stress on decision making. Motivation has been shown to alter top-down attention allocation strategies (Locke & Braver, 2008). Locke and Braver found that monetary incentive was associated with changes in PFC activity. Understanding how motivation might moderate the deleterious effect of stress on feedback processing and ultimately decision making will aid in understanding decisions made in dynamic military contexts that are characterized by high stress, yet high motivation for success. The current study is a 2(Stress) x 2(Reliability) x 2(Motivation) design, with stress and motivation manipulated between subjects, and reliability manipulated within. Stress will be induced in a laboratory setting using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST; Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993); shown to produce the largest stress-related elevations in cortisol in a laboratory setting (Dickerson & Kemeny, 2004). Salivary cortisol, heart-rate variability, and pupil dilation will be measured throughout the experiment as indicators of stress. Two decision aids will be used, one with consistent reliability, and one with inconsistent reliability. Participants will be exposed to both reliability conditions. Finally, motivation will be operationalized as a performance-based monetary incentive. In the motivation condition participants will be made aware of the monetary incentive, and have an updated total displayed on the computer. To summarize, the goals of this study are to examine (a) shift in reliance decisions under stress, (b) if stress inhibits the ability to incorporate feedback information as it pertains to reliability, and (c) what extent motivation acts a buffer against the adverse effects of stress.
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