Stage 2 Registered Report: How responsibility attributions to self and others relate to outcome ownership in group decisions.
Jaquiery M., El Zein M.
Background: Responsibility judgements have important consequences in human society. Previous research focused on how someone's responsibility determines the outcome they deserve, for example, whether they are rewarded or punished. Here, in a pre-registered study (Stage 1 Registered Report: https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16480.2), we investigate the opposite link: How outcome ownership influences responsibility attributions in a social context. Methods: In an online study, participants in a group of three perform a majority vote decision-making task between gambles that can lead to a reward or no reward. Only one group member receives the outcome and participants evaluate their and the other players' responsibility for the obtained outcome. Results: We found that outcome ownership increases responsibility attributions even when the control over an outcome is similar. Moreover, ownership had an effect on the valence bias: participants' higher responsibility attributions for positive vs negative outcomes was stronger for players who received the outcome. Finally, this effect was more pronounced when people rated their own responsibility as compared to when they were rating another's player responsibility. Conclusions: The findings of this study reveal how credit attributions can be biased toward particular individuals who receive outcomes as a result of collective work, both when people judge their own and someone else's responsibility.