Optimal intertemporal decisions arise from the balance between an emotional-visceral component, signaling the need for immediate gratification, and a rational, long-term oriented component. Alexithymia, a personality construct characterized by amplified sensitivity to internal bodily signals of arousal, may result in enhanced activation of the emotional-visceral component over the cognitive-rational one. To test this hypothesis, participants with high- and low-alexithymia level were compared at an intertemporal decision-making task, and their choice behavior correlated with their interoceptive sensitivity. We show that high-alexithymic tend to behave more impatiently than low-alexithymic in intertemporal decisions, particularly when the sooner reward is immediately available. Moreover, the greater their sensitivity to their own visceral sensations, the greater the impatience. Together, these results suggest a disproportionate valuation of reward available immediately in high alexithymia, possibly reflecting heightened perception of bodily physiological signals, which ultimately would bias their intertemporal decision-making.

Now or not-now? The influence of alexithymia on intertemporal decision-making

Scarpazza, Cristina;Sellitto, Manuela;di Pellegrino, Giuseppe
2017

Abstract

Optimal intertemporal decisions arise from the balance between an emotional-visceral component, signaling the need for immediate gratification, and a rational, long-term oriented component. Alexithymia, a personality construct characterized by amplified sensitivity to internal bodily signals of arousal, may result in enhanced activation of the emotional-visceral component over the cognitive-rational one. To test this hypothesis, participants with high- and low-alexithymia level were compared at an intertemporal decision-making task, and their choice behavior correlated with their interoceptive sensitivity. We show that high-alexithymic tend to behave more impatiently than low-alexithymic in intertemporal decisions, particularly when the sooner reward is immediately available. Moreover, the greater their sensitivity to their own visceral sensations, the greater the impatience. Together, these results suggest a disproportionate valuation of reward available immediately in high alexithymia, possibly reflecting heightened perception of bodily physiological signals, which ultimately would bias their intertemporal decision-making.
Scarpazza, Cristina; Sellitto, Manuela; di Pellegrino, Giuseppe
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/624884
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