Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Peter Sokol-Hessner

Second Advisor

Kimberly Chiew

Third Advisor

Timothy Sweeny

Fourth Advisor

Kateri McRae

Fifth Advisor

Markus Schneider


Cognitive strategy, Context-dependence, Emotion regulation, Risky decision-making


Some of the most influential modern theories of risky monetary decision-making assume that choices result from stable, trait-like preferences, invariant to contextual influences such as recent events. Recent research has challenged this assumption, demonstrating that decisions under risk, even when values and their probabilities are explicit and known, are contextually sensitive, affected by recent events on multiple timescales, including immediate (previous monetary outcomes), neighborhood (recently encountered values), and global (cumulative earnings relative to dynamic expectations) events. Such temporal context-dependencies are perplexing, because relying on recent events at any timescale is inconsistent with the assumed goal of risky monetary decision-making: to maximize payoff. Identifying this suboptimal behavioral pattern raises the possibility it can be mitigated using behavioral change strategies. We tested whether the effects of temporal context in risk-taking can be attenuated with an intentional cognitive strategy. 124 participants completed two rounds of a context-sensitive gambling task with trial-by-trial feedback, the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, and working memory capacity tasks. Participants were randomly assigned to complete each gambling round with a strategy either emphasizing a natural, uncontrolled decision-making approach or directly instructing participants to ignore context. Instructions to ignore context influenced temporal context effects on the immediate timescale but did not change those on the neighborhood or global timescales. The strategy was not uniformly effective for all individuals. The cognitive strategy eliminated (and even reversed) contextual effects on the immediate timescale for individuals with moderate and high habitual use of reappraisal. However, the cognitive strategy paradoxically strengthened contextual effects on the immediate timescale for individuals with low habitual use of reappraisal. The selective effects of strategic control on the influence of context indicates promising future directions for attempts to optimize human decision-making, but also suggests that the ability to do so has bounds.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Hayley R. Brooks


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

131 pgs


Experimental psychology

Available for download on Friday, August 01, 2025