Decisions and Emotions

How do we respond physiologically and emotionally to different kinds of tasks?

Project title

Physiological and emotional responses to performance and computer decision-making tasks (HREC 23412)


The aim of this research is to investigate how people physiologically and emotionally respond to two types of tasks, a performance task and a decision-making task.

What will I be asked to do?

Should you agree to participate the experiment will take place across two sessions no more than four days apart. Each session will take approximately 2.5 hours and you will be paid $10 for showing up, and an additional $30-$50 depending on how well you do in the tasks. You must intend to participate in both sessions to be eligible to participate. Someone who completed both sessions would earn $80-$120 in total. If you do not complete both sessions in full you will only be paid the $10 show-up fee for the sessions you attended.

The performance task will take 10-15 minutes in total. You will be required to prepare a short speech on a given topic and speak it aloud. The computer decision-making task will take 50-70 minutes and will present you with many trials displaying a set of items, each with a nominated weight and dollar value. You will need to decide how much value you can achieve with these items subject to a maximum weight allowance.

In order to measure emotional responses to these tasks you will need to (repeatedly) complete questionnaires and answer questions which indicate how you are feeling at different points throughout the experiment. Further, in one of the sessions two experts trained in verbal and nonverbal communication will observe and film the performance task to assess your body language. The recording will only be accessible to the researchers and are purely to assist with note-taking: they will never be shared or publicised in any way.

In order to measure how the body responds to these tasks, several physiological measurements will be taken. Specifically, throughout the experiment you will be wearing heart-rate and skin-sweat monitors, during the computer-task you will be fitted to eye-tracking devices which monitor your pupil size and track your eye’s movements, and finally the researchers will collect up to 6 saliva samples at different points in time (you will be asked to suck on a cotton swab and place it into a tube).

Due to the physiological measurements being taken, you will be asked not to eat, brush or floss your teeth, smoke, exercise, or drink anything other than water in the one (1) hour leading up to the experiment. You will also be asked to have a good sleep the night before, to wake up no later than 10am on the day of the experiment, and not to sleep in the two (2) hours leading up to the experiment.

As a consequence of the type of saliva analysis this research requires, not everyone will be eligible to participate in this study. Unfortunately, if you meet ANY of the below criteria then you CANNOT participate in the experiment:

- Aged below 18 years or above 35 years

- Body Mass Index (BMI) below 19 or above 26

- Current diagnosis of an acute or chronic somatic / psychiatric disease

- Current intake of any medication (including oral contraceptives or asthma medication)

- Currently in psychotherapy treatment

- Currently feeling acutely or chronically stressed

- Irregular menstrual cycles or currently pregnant

- History of substance abuse / addiction

You will need a valid Australian PayID to be able to participate and to be paid for your participation.

How will my confidentiality be protected?

This is an anonymous study. We will protect the confidentiality of your responses to the fullest possible extent, within the limits of the law. Only participant codes will be used in the storage of data, so that your responses and data cannot be linked to your identity. Any data collected will be used for the purposes of research only. The data will be kept securely in the Department of Finance for a minimum of five years from the date of publication. Your experimental data may be used in related future research conducted by members of the Department of Finance. Your data will be password protected and accessible only by the named researchers.

How will I receive feedback?

Results of the study will be available from the researchers’ websites, be presented at conferences and be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Will participation prejudice me in any way?

Please be advised that your participation in this study is completely voluntary. Should you wish to withdraw at any stage, or withdraw any unprocessed data you have supplied, you are free to do so without prejudice, and receive $10. Any potential conflicts of interest arising if you are a student of the above researchers will not affect your grades in any way.

Where can I get further information?

Should you require any further information, or have any concerns regarding the conduct of this research, please contact the researchers on 03 9035 9950 .

This project follows the guidelines of the National Health and Medical Research Council Statement on Human Experimentation, and has been approved by: Human Research Ethics Committee, The University of Melbourne.

This project has human research ethics approval from The University of Melbourne. If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of this research project, which you do not wish to discuss with the research team, you should contact the Research Integrity Administrator, Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010. Tel: +61 3 8344 1376 or Email: All complaints will be treated confidentially. In any correspondence please provide the name of the research team and/or the name or ethics ID number (23412) of the research project.

How do I agree to participate?

If you decide to participate, please sign up for an experimental session here.

Human ethics approval

This study has been approved by the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee (project ID: HREC 23412).

Centre for Brain, Mind and Markets
Department of Finance
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 9035 9950