Just “to know”: Are individuals high in openness/intellect more sensitive to the reward value of information?
A recent theory proposes that the personality trait openness/intellect is underpinned by differential sensitivity to the reward value of information. This theory draws on evidence that midbrain dopamine neurons respond to unpredicted information gain, mirroring their responses to unpredicted primary rewards. In this talk I will describe results from two experiments examining the relation between openness/intellect and willingness to pay for non-instrumental information within a choice task modelled on this seminal work. The second of these experiments includes a pharmacological manipulation of dopamine function using the D2 receptor antagoinist sulpiride. In both experiments, most measures of openness/intellect were unrelated to costly information preference, and some predicted a decreased willingness to incur a cost for information. This cost-dependent association between openness/intellect and information valuation was seemingly abolished under sulpiride, which also increased willingness to pay for moderately costly information. Comparing the results of these experiments to two further studies undertaken in my lab, I conclude with some suggested refinements to the information valuation theory of openness/intellect, and directions for future research.
Speaker Bio: Luke Smillie is an Associate Professor specialising in personality psychology, the director of the Personality Processes Lab at the University of Melbourne, and author of over 80 scientific articles and chapters. His research spans a range of topics within personality psychology, with links to neuroscience, emotion, positive psychology, and behavioural economics. He also holds editorial roles at several journals including Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Journal of Personality.