ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (1): 45-54.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.00045

• 工程心理学专栏 • 上一篇    下一篇


王霈珊, 古若雷, 张亮()   

  1. 中国科学院行为科学重点实验室(中国科学院心理研究所), 北京 100101
    中国科学院大学心理学系, 北京 100049
  • 收稿日期:2021-05-31 发布日期:2022-10-13 出版日期:2023-01-25
  • 通讯作者: 张亮
  • 基金资助:

The relationship between acute stress and risk taking: The moderating effect of ease of excitation

WANG Peishan, GU Ruolei, ZHANG Liang()   

  1. CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Beijing 100101, China
    Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-05-31 Online:2022-10-13 Published:2023-01-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Liang


为探索应激对决策的作用机理及其个体差异, 减少工程作业中因应激导致的决策失误, 本研究采用特里尔社会应激测试和气球模拟风险任务考察应激反应与应激下风险倾向的关系, 并探索兴奋易感性在其中的调节作用。研究结果表明, 应激下个体的皮质醇反应越大, 行为越冒险。且这一作用受到兴奋易感性的调节:兴奋易感性较高的个体, 应激下皮质醇反应越大, 行为越冒险;而兴奋易感性较低的个体, 其皮质醇变化不能预测风险倾向。该发现提示了兴奋易感性在应激影响中的重要作用, 也为高压岗位的人员选拔提供了科学启示。

关键词: 急性应激, 风险倾向, 兴奋易感性, 皮质醇, 心率


Operators will inevitably encounter stressful events such as time pressure, high workload, or emergencies in high-risk and even routine factory work. Numerous psychological and post-accident analyses showed that decision-making error under stress is one of the most common causes of industrial accidents. Previous studies have found that individual factors play an essential role in how we feel and react to stress, moderating stress responses and affecting subsequent decision-making. However, as one of these factors that is closely associated with stress and decision-making, ease of excitation (EOE) has rarely been explored. Therefore, we conducted the present study to investigate the influencing mechanism of stress on risk taking and the moderating effect of ease of excitation. We supposed that stress level (indexed by salivary cortisol and heart rate) was correlated with risk-taking behavior, and ease of excitation played a moderating role in this relationship. Individuals with a high level of ease of excitation might be more susceptible to stress responses.

Forty-three male participants were recruited in the study. We adopted the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) to induce acute psychological stress and collected participants’ salivary cortisol, heart rate and subjective emotional states during the experiment to evaluate their stress responses. The Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) was applied to measure their risk-taking behavior under stress. The mean adjusted number of pumps across trials was taken as the primary behavioral index. We used the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) to evaluate ease of excitation before the stress task to test the moderating effect on the relationship between stress response and risk-taking behavior.

Repeated measure ANOVA revealed that salivary cortisol, heart rate, and negative mood increased significantly from baseline after the stress task and gradually returned to baseline, confirming that the stress manipulation was efficient. Correlation analysis showed that cortisol response was positively correlated with the mean adjusted number of pumps, while heart rate was unrelated. Furthermore, hierarchical multiple regression found that ease of excitation moderated the relationship between the salivary cortisol level and the mean adjusted number of pumps. To interpret the significant moderator effect of ease of excitation, we conducted a simple slope test. Analysis observed that when ease of excitation was one standard deviation below the mean value, the salivary cortisol level could not predict the mean adjusted number of pumps. However, when ease of excitation was one standard deviation above the mean value, the salivary cortisol level could significantly predict the number of pumps. The more salivary cortisol increased, the more did participants pumped. However, ease of excitation did not moderate the relationship between the heart rate and the mean adjusted number of pumps.

Taken together, the current study demonstrates that increased cortisol level under stress positively associates with risk-taking behavior, and ease of excitation moderates the relationship. For individuals with a high level of ease of excitation, the more cortisol they increase, the riskier they are. It may owe to their hyper-sensitivity to internal and external stimuli. These findings highlight the importance of individual differences in understanding the mechanism of stress and provide scientific implications for selecting and training operators in high-pressure positions.

Key words: acute stress, risk taking, ease of excitation, cortisol, heart rate