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Fairness, trust & reciprocity: insights from decision neuroscience

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Abstract: Our lives consist of a constant stream of decisions and choices, from the mundane to the highly consequential. The standard approach to experimentally examining decision-making has been to examine choices with clearly defined probabilities and outcomes, however it is an open question as to whether decision models describing these situations can be extended to choices that must be made by assessing the intentions and preferences both of oneself and of another social partner. This class of social decision-making offers a useful approach to examine more complex forms of decisions, which may in fact better approximate many of our real-life choices. I will present both behavioral, pharmacological, and neural data from several experiments where we have used existing and novel economic games to observe how players decide in real, consequential, social contexts, and will discuss how we can use these brain insights to build better models of human social preferences, incorporating both psychological and neurobiological constructs.

Bio: Alan Sanfey is a Principal Investigator at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Previously he held positions as Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, and as a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University. He holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Colorado, and an undergraduate honors degree in Psychology from University College Dublin, Ireland. He currently heads the Decision Neuroscience group at the Donders Institute, with his research studying both individual and interactive decision-making by combining the methods of behavioral experiments, functional neuroimaging, and formal economic models. A further goal of his group is to use the knowledge gleaned from these studies to inform public policy debates.

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