Experimental Psychology Social Brain and Behaviour Seminar: Social Decision-Making under Risk: When we Err on the Safe Side
Anne-Marie Nußberger (Department of Experimental Psychology)
Social Brain & Behaviour Club
Wednesday, 03 July 2019, 4pm to 5pm
Tinsley Building, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TA
Many decisions require us to evaluate risky outcomes that vary in magnitude and probability. Sometimes the outcomes at stake concern our own welfare, other times they concern others’ welfare. Past research has established magnitude and probability as key parameters in risky decisions concerning our own welfare (individual choices), but their role in risky decisions concerning others’ welfare (social choices) has been neglected. We address this gap taking a comparative approach where we pitch individual against social choices in a series of experiments with outcomes ranging from monetary payoffs over electric shocks to (hypothetical) human lives. Across studies, we find that individual decisions are more sensitive to variations in probability and magnitude compared to social decisions. This result seems to be driven by increased indecision and less risk-seeking in social compared to individual decisions. Generalizing across individual differences in risk preferences and empathy, our results point towards people experiencing enhanced subjective uncertainty in social decisions under risk, signified by less risk seeking and greater indecision.