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Anxiety increases information-seeking in response to large changes

Charpentier, Caroline J. and Cogliati Dezza, Irene and Vellani, Valentina and Globig, Laura K. and Gädeke, Maria and Sharot, Tali (2022) Anxiety increases information-seeking in response to large changes. Scientific Reports, 12 . Art. No. 7385. ISSN 2045-2322. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-10813-9.

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Seeking information when anxious may help reduce the aversive feeling of uncertainty and guide decision-making. If information is negative or confusing, however, this may increase anxiety further. Information gathered under anxiety can thus be beneficial and/or damaging. Here, we examine whether anxiety leads to a general increase in information-seeking, or rather to changes in the type of information and/or situations in which it is sought. In two controlled laboratory studies, we show that both trait anxiety and induced anxiety lead to a selective alteration in information-seeking. In particular, anxiety did not enhance the general tendency to seek information, nor did it alter the valence of the information gathered. Rather, anxiety amplified the tendency to seek information more in response to large changes in the environment. This was true even when the cause of the anxiety was not directly related to the information sought. As anxious individuals have been shown to have problems learning in changing environments, greater information-seeking in such environments may be an adaptive compensatory mechanism.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemAnonymized data and code Paper
Charpentier, Caroline J.0000-0002-7283-0738
Cogliati Dezza, Irene0000-0002-1212-4751
Vellani, Valentina0000-0001-7191-5257
Globig, Laura K.0000-0002-0612-0594
Sharot, Tali0000-0002-8384-6292
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit Received 22 October 2021; Accepted 07 April 2022; Published 05 May 2022. We thank Bastien Blain, Moshe Glickman, Christopher Kelly, Gaia Molinaro, Christina Maher, Liron Rozenkrantz and Sarah Zheng for providing comments. The work was funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship to TS (214268/Z/18/Z), by a FWO postdoctoral fellowship to ICD and by a Sir Henry Postdoctoral Fellowship (218642/Z/19/Z) to CJC. The authors declare no competing financial interests. This article was funded by Sir Henry Postdoctoral Fellowship (218642/Z/19/Z), FWO postdoctoral fellowship and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (214268/Z/18/Z). Data and code availability: Anonymized data and code is available at this link: These authors contributed equally: Caroline J. Charpentier, Irene Cogliati Dezza and Valentina Vellani. Contributions: C.J.C., I.C.D., V.V. and T.S. developed the study concept. C.J.C., I.C.D., V.V., L.G. and T.S. contributed to the study design. Data collection was performed by C.J.C., M.G. and L.G. Data analysis and interpretation were performed by C.J.C., I.C.D., V.V. and T.S. All authors drafted the manuscript and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Wellcome Trust214268/Z/18/Z
Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)UNSPECIFIED
Wellcome Trust218642/Z/19/Z
Subject Keywords:Emotion; Human behaviour
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220505-200419171
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Official Citation:Charpentier, C.J., Cogliati Dezza, I., Vellani, V. et al. Anxiety increases information-seeking in response to large changes. Sci Rep 12, 7385 (2022).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:114597
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 May 2022 22:56
Last Modified:05 May 2022 22:56

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