Although numerous studies have demonstrated that the saliency of perceptual information guides attention, the effect of perceptual saliency in high-level social situations remains unclear. Here, in a modified ultimatum game that included both gain and loss sharing, we highlighted either the fairness (fair or unfair) or the valence (gain or loss) aspect of a proposed offer using salient background colors with social meanings. The results showed that emotional responses to proposed offers were influenced by visual saliency. Specifically, individuals felt more dissatisfied about unfair (as opposed to fair) offers when fairness was emphasized than when valence was emphasized or no emphasis; and similarly, individuals felt more dissatisfied about loss situations compared to gain situations when valence was emphasized than when fairness was emphasized or no emphasis. However, this attentional modulation of social information led to changes only on affective responses but not on actual behavioral responses. Our findings indicate that attentional modulation of social information has a profound impact on affective evaluation by changing how information is weighed.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Decision making