Depletion of executive control during risky decision making reveals a correspondence between the reflection effect and trial-by-trial strategy formation
According to dual process theories, depletion of executive resources may amplify decision-making biases. Psychological studies investigating the influence of executive control on risky decision making typically employ dual task paradigms, e.g. a risky decision-making task in parallel with an executive task. However, these paradigms often reveal relatively weak to effects. In this study, we designed a novel task to determine the influence of executive control on risky decision making directly, and simultaneously separating gains and losses using a block design. Contrary to other tasks, risk taking, and executive control occurred during the same decision. When risky decisions were conditioned on high executive control, participants demonstrated a reflection effect: higher risk taking for loss blocks, compared to gain blocks. Further exploration revealed that the gain-domain specific influence of executive control on risky decisions occurred due to the influence of trial-by-trial decision-making strategies.