Social Expectations Bias Decision-Making in Uncertain Inter-Personal Situations
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Public Library of Science (PLOS)
BehaviorComputersDecision makingEmotionsGamesPersonalityPersonality traitsSocial research
Ruz, M.; Moser, A.; Webster, K. Social Expectations Bias Decision-Making in Uncertain Inter-Personal Situations. Plos One, 6(2): e15762 (2011). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/30928]
SponsorshipResearch presented in this paper was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) through a Ramón y Cajal Research Fellowship granted to MR (ref. RYC-2008-03008).
Understanding the role that social cues have on interpersonal choice, and their susceptibility to contextual effects, is of core importance to models of social decision-making. Language, on the other hand, is one of the main means of communication during social interactions in our culture. The present experiments tested whether positive and negative linguistic descriptions of alleged partners in a modified Ultimatum Game biased decisions made to the same set of offers, and whether the contextual uncertainty of the game modulated this biasing effect. The results showed that in an uncertain context, the same offers were accepted with higher probability when they were preceded by positive rather than by negative valenced trait-words. Participants also accepted fair offers with higher probability than unfair offers, but this effect did not interact with the valence of the social descriptive words. In addition, the speed of the decision was affected by valence: acceptance choices were faster when they followed a positive adjective, whereas rejection responses were faster after a negative-valenced word. However, these effects were highly reduced when the uncertainty was eliminated from the game. This suggests that positive and negative relevant social information can bias decisions made to the same pieces of evidence during interpersonal interactions, but that this mainly takes place when the uncertainty associated with the choices is high.