Metabolic state alters economic decision making under risk in humans a critique
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Metabolic State Alters Economic Decision Making under Risk in Humans – A critique. Symmonds , Emmanuel, Drew, Batterham & Dolan, 2010. 19 men with BMI of 22.6±1.7 Anthropometric measurements were taken Standardisation procedure Fasting until the next morning

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Metabolic state alters economic decision making under risk in humans a critique

Metabolic State Alters Economic Decision Making under Risk in Humans – A critique

Symmonds, Emmanuel, Drew, Batterham & Dolan, 2010

Overview methods

  • 19 men with BMI of 22.6±1.7

  • Anthropometric measurements were taken

  • Standardisation procedure

  • Fasting until the next morning

  • Blood samples were taken to measure glucose, acyl-ghrelin and leptin

  • Standardised meal

  • Multiple paired lottery choice task

Overview: Methods

Multiple paired lottery choice task
Multiple Paired Lottery Choice Task

Symmonds et al. (2010).

Overview results conclusion


Risk-taking increases immediately and for up to an hour after a meal. Correlations with leptin & acyl-ghrelin.


Risk preferences in humans is affected by metabolic state.

Overview: Results & Conclusion

Prospect theory

This paper aims to provide a real world application of Prospect Theory.

Prospect Theory focuses on gains and losses, rather than on final wealth position (Markowitz, 1952).

Direct analogies from animals' foraging behaviour have been drawn from Prospect Theory's account of the relationship between risk-taking and reference points.

Prospect theory

Critique participants

Critique- Participants

Critique participants1

  • Volunteer sample most of the final analyses

    • Greater sociability (Rosenthal, 1965, cited by Schultz, 1969)

    • Generalised risk-taking & sociality (Zuckerman & Kuhlman, 2000 )

  • Body fat & BMI differences- sample differed significantly from national average

  • No cognitive bias checks in participant selection (Raghunathan & Pham, 1999)

  • Age range from 20-46 (Deakin et al, 2004)

Critique- Participants

Critique methodology

Critique- Methodology

Critique methodology1

Critique- Methodology

Critique methodology2

  • Fasting/ Satiated/ Post- satiated conditions occurred in the same order each time- possibility for practice/fatigue effects

  • Took place over the same time period every day- variation in mood during this period (Clark et al., 1989)

  • Gambles are hypothetical- participants' choices may have been different if they were actually risking money


Critique results conclusion

  • Significance same order each time- possibility for practice/fatigue effectslevel used for risk and body fat correlation unsatisfactory

  • Hunger may not directly affect risk. Hunger may affect mood, which then affects risk, for example

  • Sample size neglect

  • Confirmatory bias

    • This is where researchers may look for data to confirm their own beliefs/hypotheses.

Critique- Results & conclusion

Positive methodology critiques

Visual Analogue Scales good measure of hunger (Stubbs et al, 2000)

Randomised lottery position to reduce habituation.

Same lottery choices across all conditions.

Performed an awareness check at debrief.

Unlimited time to make lottery decision.

Hunger levels underwent significant change.

Positive methodology critiques

Positive conclusion critiques

Conclusion adds to field of research by showing findings not predicted by normative economic theory.

Findings make interesting link under paradigm of economic prospect theory.

Results have important implications to eating disorders

The researchers had no declared competing interests.

Positive conclusion critiques

Directions for further research

Conduct study again using mixed gender/ all female sample. (Dreber, Rand & Wernerfelt et al, 2011)

Conduct using larger sample size.

A study using recruited participants rather than volunteers is essential in removing extraneous variables. (Rosenthal, 1965, cited by Schultz, 1969; Zuckerman & Kuhlman)

Directions for further research

Directions for further research continued
Directions for further research continued (Dreber, Rand & Wernerfelt et al, 2011)

Environment for fasting element should be more controlled.

Vary time of day in future conditions.

Propose non-hypothetical gambling experiment.


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