Negative incidental emotions augment fairness sensitivity

Cuizhen Liu, Jing Wen Chai, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that task-unrelated emotions induced incidentally exert carryover effects on individuals' subsequent decisions in financial negotiations. However, the specificity of these emotion effects are not clear. In three experiments, we systematically investigated the role of seven transiently induced basic emotions (disgust, sadness, anger, fear, happiness, surprise and neutral) on rejection of unfair offers using the ultimatum game. We found that all negative emotions (disgust, sadness, anger and fear), but not happiness or surprise, significantly increased rejection rates, suggesting that the effect of incidental negative emotions on fairness is not specific to the type of negative emotion. Our findings highlight the role of fleeting emotions in biasing decision-making processes and suggest that all incidental negative emotions exert similar effects on fairness sensitivity, possibly by potentiating attention towards negative aspects of the situation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24892
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • General


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