Saliency modulates affective evaluations but not behavioral responses in the ultimatum game

Cuizhen Liu, Jingwen Chai, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume183
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Emotion
  • Fairness
  • Saliency

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