How social and nonsocial context affects stay/leave decision-making: the influence of actual and expected rewards

A. Heijne, Alan G. Sanfey

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Abstract

This study investigated whether deciding to either stay with or leave a social relationship partner, based on a sequence of collaborative social interactions, is impacted by (1) observed and (2) anticipated gains and losses associated with the collaboration; and, importantly, (3) whether these effects differ between social and nonsocial contexts. In the social context, participants played an iterated collaborative economic game in which they were dependent on the successes and failures of a game partner in order to increase their monetary payoff, and in which they were free to stop collaborating with this partner whenever they chose. In Study 1, we manipulated the actual success rate of partners, and demonstrated that participants decided to stay longer with 'better' partners. In Study 2, we induced prior expectations about specific partners, while keeping the objective performance of all partners equal, and found that participants decided to stay longer with partners whom they expected to be 'better' than others, irrespective of actual performance. Importantly, both Study 1 and 2 included a nonsocial control condition that was probabilistically identical to the social conditions. All findings were replicated in nonsocial context, but results demonstrated that the effect of prior beliefs on stay/leave decision-making was much less pronounced in a social than a nonsocial context.

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0135226
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume10
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • TRUSTWORTHINESS JUDGMENTS
  • NEURAL SYSTEMS
  • TRUST
  • COMMITMENT
  • SATISFACTION
  • COOPERATION
  • EVOLUTION
  • RACE

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