Affective state and decision-making in the Ultimatum Game

M van't Wout*, RS Kahn, AG Sanfey, A Aleman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

293 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The emerging field of neuroeconomics has provided evidence that emotional as well as cognitive processes may contribute to economic decision-making. Indeed, activation of the anterior insula, a brain area involved in emotional processing, has been shown to predict decision-making in the Ultimatum Game. However, as the insula has also been implicated in other brain functions, converging evidence on the role of emotion in the Ultimatum Game is needed. In the present study, 30 healthy undergraduate students played the Ultimatum Game while their skin conductance responses were measured as an autonomic index of affective state. The results revealed that skin conductance activity was higher for unfair offers and was associated with the rejection of unfair offers in the Ultimatum Game. Interestingly, this pattern was only observed for offers proposed by human conspecifics, but not for offers generated by computers. This provides direct support for economic models that acknowledge the role of emotional brain systems in everyday decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-568
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume169
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2006

Keywords

  • decision-making
  • emotion
  • arousal
  • skin conductance
  • Ultimatum Game
  • social utility
  • SOMATIC MARKER HYPOTHESIS
  • IOWA GAMBLING TASK
  • ECONOMIC DECISION

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