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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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109. Reduced Risk Propensity during the Euthymic Phase of Bipolar Disorder: A Protective Mechanism?

Bipolar disorder (BD) is associated with excessive goal-directed and pleasure-seeking behaviors that manifest in its clinical presentation. Recent investigations have examined these dynamics in acute mood episodes, but it remains unclear whether aberrations in risk-taking are also present during the euthymic phase. This study examined risk propensity in sub-acute stages of BD using a sample of 33 participants with BD, currently euthymic, and 34 controls. Participants completed the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), a computerized risk-taking assessment, and self-ratings. For each participant, a sigmoid function was fitted to the data, i.e., percentage of trials the participant pumped the balloon (y-axis) against the number of pumps (x-axis), to calculate two key constructs: certainty (slope) and risk propensity (threshold at 50% probability). The two groups were not different in certainty, but BD (34.01±11.16) showed significantly reduced risk propensity compared with controls (40.07±11.57), t(64) = 2.162, p=.034. Within the BP group, lower risk propensity correlated with higher behavioral activation to reward (rho= -.351, p=.045) and also higher behavioral inhibition (rho= -.407, p=.019). The results suggest that avoiding reward-related risk-taking may be a mood-regulating strategy for bipolar patients who are sensitive to reward but capable to inhibit such impulse. This finding informs personalized treatment strategies. Future research should confirm this finding using longitudinal and experimental methods.

Carly Lasagna
University of Michigan

Cynthia Burton
University of Michigan

Ivy Tso
University of Michigan


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