Distraction from emotional information reduces biased judgements. Academic Article uri icon


  • Biases arising from emotional processes are some of the most robust behavioural effects in the social sciences. The goal of this investigation was to examine the extent to which the emotion regulation strategy of distraction could reduce biases in judgement known to result from emotional information. Study 1 explored lay views regarding whether distraction is an effective strategy to improve decision-making and revealed that participants did not endorse this strategy. Studies 2-5 focused on several established, robust biases that result from emotional information: loss aversion, desirability bias, risk aversion and optimistic bias. Participants were prompted to divert attention away from their feelings while making judgements, and in each study this distraction strategy resulted in reduced bias in judgement relative to control conditions. The findings provide evidence that distraction can improve choice across several situations that typically elicit robustly biased responses, even though participants are not aware of the effectiveness of this strategy.

published proceedings

  • Cogn Emot

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lench, H. C., Bench, S. W., & Davis, E. L.

citation count

  • 7

publication date

  • May 2016