The role of expecting feedback during decision-making under risk

Francesco Rigoli*, Cristina Martinelli, Sukhwinder S. Shergill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


Sometimes choice is followed by outcome feedback and other times it is not. It remains unknown whether humans prefer gambling when they expect feedback to be revealed. Regarding this question, decision-making theories make alternative predictions. Some theories have proposed that choice is influenced by whether one expects to be disappointed in the future. Given that feedback is sometimes disappointing, these theories predict increased aversion towards gambling when feedback is expected compared to when feedback is not expected. The opposite effect is predicted by theories of curiosity, which postulate reduction of uncertainty as an important behavioural drive. Given that feedback reduces uncertainty, these theories predict that gambling will be favoured when feedback is expected. To examine whether expecting feedback influences gambling behaviour, we recorded functional neuroimaging data while participants performed a novel decision-making task requiring to chose between a sure option and a gamble. Crucially, participants expected to receive feedback in some trials but not in other trials. Consistent with theories of curiosity, we found that expecting feedback increased gambling propensity. At the neural level, at option presentation the increased value of gambling during feedback was reflected in activity in the ventral striatum. This suggests that, together with its established role in signalling reward, the ventral striatum also processes a form of epistemic value. Our study demonstrates that gambling becomes more attractive when feedback is expected and suggests that striatal activity could signal the value of feedback information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116079
Early online date8 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019


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