Internal control beliefs shape positive affect, motivation, and neural dynamics during outcome valuation

David S Stolz, Laura Müller-Pinzler, Sören Krach, Frieder M Paulus

Jun 28, 2019

Received Date: 14th June 19

Experiencing events as controllable and attributing positive outcomes to own contributions is essential for human well-being. Based on classic psychological theory we test how internal control beliefs impact the affective valuation of task outcomes, neural dynamics and ensuing behavioral preferences. In three consecutive studies with independent samples we show that self-evaluative affective dynamics specifically increase when agents believe they caused a given task outcome. We demonstrate that these outcomes engage brain networks processing self-referential information in the cortical midline. Here, activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex tracks outcome valence regarding both success as well as internal control, and covaries with self-evaluative affect. These affective dynamics also relate to increased functional coupling between the ventral striatum and cortical midline structures. Finally, we show that self-evaluative affect promotes preferences for control, even at a monetary cost. Our investigations extend recent models of positive affect and well-being, and emphasize that control beliefs drive intrinsic motivation.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.


Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature