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Article

Tolerance and intolerance of uncertainty as predictors of decision-making and risk acceptance in gaming strategies of the Iowa Gambling Task

Kornilova T. V., Chumakova M., Kornilov S. A.

Background. The article presents the results of an empirical study of interrelationships between the indicators of decision-making strategies (in an uncertain environment modeled by the Iowa Gambling Task) with tolerance and intolerance of uncertainty. These personality characteristics reflect a person's positive or negative attitude toward uncertainty and may be interpreted as a unity of the cognitive and personality components of constructing an image of a situation, even if measured via psychodiagnostic questionnaires. Research of the role of individual differences in these personality characteristics is one of the ways of revealing regulatory profiles of decision- making (DM) for normal groups. It was assumed that the overcoming of uncertainty in DM involves the necessity for prognostic activity that cannot be regarded as cognitive schemes alone. The construction of the image of an uncertain situation is based on the amodal "image of the world" that includes the meaning regulation of perception and action, and therefore not only the cognitive components of one’s hypotheses regarding the consequences of choice, but also personality-derived expectations and preferences. Anticipation or prognostic activity in the DM thus includes a personality component of choice regulation that is difficult to grasp on the basis of the visceral feedback of prognostic success alone. 

Objective. In this study we hypothesized that when faced with multi-stage decisions, a person’s strategies reflect the contribution of individual differences and, in particular, personal attitude towards uncertainty. In the study, these relations are reflected in tolerance and intolerance of uncertainty and the role of these variables in the regulation of preferred choices at different stages of a DM strategy.

Design. To model uncertain conditions we used the version of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) developed by Grasman and Wagenmakers (Grasman & Wagenmakers, 2005). The IGT models a situation where a person in each step of decision making should strive to accumulate certain gains (in the form of points or money) when choosing among decks of cards that provide a multi-probability picture of possible gains and losses. Dependent variables in IGT were: the overall gain, the preference proportion of "advantageous" decks in each block and the general preference for "advantageous" decks.
The general sequence of the participants’ choices was divided into 5 stages, for each of which the outlined variables were calculated. The data was analyzed using the mixed linear model method in the lme4 package for R.
In the study 60 people participated (68% men and 32% women), with an average age of 30.58, with incomplete or complete undergraduate degrees.

Results. It is shown that tolerance for uncertainty regulates the initial level of risk, ensuring readiness for DM in uncertain conditions. This personality characteristic plays an important role in the orientation in a varying game situation (the dynamics of the environment) and the productive development of probabilistic anticipations.

Conclusion. Intolerance of uncertainty regulates risk appetite after failure/loss, potentially limiting learning in uncertain conditions through risk aversion.