Exposure to acute stress can impact performance on numerous cognitive abilities, but little is known about how acute stress affects real-world decision-making ability. In the present study, we induced acute stress with a standard laboratory task involving uncontrollable socio-evaluative stress and subsequently assessed decision-making ability using the Adult Decision Making Competence index. In addition, we took baseline and post-test saliva samples from participants to examine associations between decision-making competence and adrenal hormones. Participants in the stress induction group showed enhanced decision-making competence, relative to controls. Further, although both cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) reactivity predicted decision-making competence when considered in isolation, DHEA was a significantly better predictor than cortisol when both hormones were considered simultaneously. Thus, our results show that exposure to acute stress can have beneficial effects on the cognitive ability underpinning real-world decision-making and that this effect relates to DHEA reactivity more than cortisol.
- Acute stress
- Decision-making competence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry