The Causal Effect of Anxiety on Jumping-to-Conclusion Bias
Using the classic beads task, some research indicates that individuals with high anxiety possibly make hasty decisions based on less information (i.e., jump to conclusions) relative to healthy participants. However, the mechanisms underlying this psychopathology-related reasoning bias are not well understood. The present study investigated the causal effect of state anxiety on the jumping-to-conclusion bias and explored the underlying reasoning mechanics using the Bayesian computational modelling method, specifically focusing on the assignment of evidence weights. Approximately 50 participants were recruited from a university setting. The participants were randomly allocated to an anxiety induction condition whereby participants were instructed that they were to deliver a speech that would be evaluated, or to the control condition in which there was no speech task. Participants also completed two variants of the Beads Task: the classic version and a social variant focusing on the accumulation of social evaluative information to support decision making. The preliminary results suggested no significant differences in the number of beads sampled across experimental conditions. However, there were significant differences across experimental conditions in terms of how participants assigned evidence weights to the information sampled. Participants in the anxiety condition exhibited a more cautious and slower belief updating pattern by allocating significantly heavier weights to less frequently occurring information compared to those in the control condition. This pattern of results was observed in both classic and social Beads Tasks. Importantly, the preliminary findings imply that anxiety promotes cautiousness in belief revision instead of jumping-to-conclusion bias per se.