ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (05): 454-463.

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  1. 北京师范大学认知神经科学与学习国家重点实验室,北京 100875
  • 收稿日期:2008-09-01 修回日期:1900-01-01 发布日期:2009-05-30 出版日期:2009-05-30
  • 通讯作者: 罗跃嘉

The Influence of Responsibility on the Regret Intensity: An ERP Study

ZHANG Hui-Jun;ZHOU Li-Ming;LUO Yue-Jia   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2008-09-01 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2009-05-30 Published:2009-05-30
  • Contact: LUO Yue-Jia

摘要: 采用事件相关电位技术,研究责任对后悔的影响。实验采用赌博范式,主要因素是被试对于负性结果所负责任的大小,分为三个水平:1(只有被试一人犯错)、1/2(被试和另外一个人犯错)以及1/3(三人同时犯错)。研究结果发现,被试主观评定的情绪强度和责任感上,1条件下的显著大于1/2和1/3条件下的,而1/2和1/3条件无显著差异;被试的反事实思维则在三个水平上差异显著,责任越大,反事实思维越强。fERN(feedback error-related negativity,反馈错误相关负波,也称FRN,反馈负波)的波幅在1条件下的显著大于1/2和1/3条件下的,而1/2和1/3条件下的无显著差异;而P300的波幅则在三种水平上差异显著,责任越大,波幅越小。结果支持责任对后悔强度有所影响,且后悔强度在一定程度上随责任大小呈线性变化。

关键词: 后悔, 责任, 结果评价, 事件相关电位

Abstract: Regret is defined as an emotion that occurs when the outcome is worse than it could have been had one made a different choice. Its neural mechanism has become a hot area in social cognitive neuroscience. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been shown to play a key role in the experience of regret. Researchers propose that regret feeling and activities of OFC could be influenced by the degree of responsibility in choice process. Prior behavioral research indicated that responsibility influenced the regret feeling about incorrect decisions. But to date the relationship between responsibility magnitude and regret intensity has not been explored. Whether an individual would experience gradually augmented regret as a result of the increment of responsibility is the core question in our study. The regret level is the main independent factor in the current experiment. According to the theory of responsibility diffusion, the levels of responsibility could be manipulated by the number of people responsible for an incorrect choice on a trial-by-trial basis. The more individuals shall make a decision, the weaker sense of responsibility they would feel. We also intend to explore this effect by investigating temporal process, brain activities, as well as self-reported ratings. Thus, the special components of ERPs, including fERN and P300, were measured in a gamble task fulfilled by three participants together. We hypothesized that the amplitudes of fERN would be significantly different between the condition of taking responsibility alone and the other conditions.
An ERP experiment with 15 undergraduates (8 males, 7 females) was conducted to test the hypothesis. The result of each trial was displayed by an equilateral triangle. There were three levels of responsibility: 1(the participant made the wrong choice by his/her own); 1/2 (the participant and one of the collaborators made the wrong choice); 1/3 (all three participants made the wrong choice). Participants’ event-related potential data during the presence of the triangle, as well as the self-reported ratings were analyzed off-line. The fERN was calculated as the voltage difference between the most negative peak between 250-350ms and the preceding positive peak after the appearance of feedback, while the amplitude of P300 was calculated as the mean amplitude between 350-550ms. The brain electrical source analysis technique (BESA) was also conducted to estimate the dipole sources of fERN and P300.
Participants’ sense of responsibility was much higher in the wrong choice alone condition than the other conditions and the evaluation of counterfactual thinking became higher as the magnitude of responsibility went larger. The amplitude of fERN was distinctively larger in the wrong choice alone condition than the other conditions, indicating that binary evaluation was also influenced by top-down modulations. On the other hand, the P300 amplitude was inversely related to the number of people responsible for an incorrect choice. This is consistent with the notion that their personal accountability for the consequences of a choice influences the allocation of attentional and cognitive resources to the task. Sourcing analysis showed that fERN might be generated from brain regions near the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and right sub-gyral, while the P300 was related to the precuneus and medial frontal gyrus.
The result confirms our hypothesis that increment of responsibility leads to stronger regret feelings. It also implies that error-related processing could be modulated by responsibility magnitude, which in turn regulates feelings of post-decision regret.

Key words: regret, responsibility, outcome evaluation, the ERPs