Anxiety and decision-making

Catherine A. Hartley, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although the everyday decision-making of clinically anxious individuals is clearly influenced by their excessive fear and worry, the relationship between anxiety and decision-making remains relatively unexplored in neuroeconomic studies. In this review, we attempt to explore the role of anxiety in decision-making with a neuroeconomic approach. We first review the neural systems mediating fear and anxiety, which overlap with a network of brain regions implicated in studies of economic decision-making. We then discuss the potential influence of cognitive biases associated with anxiety upon economic choice, focusing on a set of decision-making biases involving choice in the face of potential aversive outcomes. We propose that the neural circuitry supporting fear learning and regulation may mediate the influence of anxiety upon choice and suggest that techniques for altering fear and anxiety may also change decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2012


  • Amygdala
  • anxiety
  • decision-making
  • fear conditioning
  • neuroeconomics
  • prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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