Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Perception of fairness can influence outcomes in human exchange. However, an inherent subjectivity in attribution renders it difficult to manipulate fairness experimentally. Here using a modified ultimatum game, within a varying social context, we induced a bias in human subjects' acceptance of objectively identical offers. To explain this fairness-related behavior, we use a computational model to specify metrics for the objective and contextual aspects of fairness, testing for correlations between these model parameters and brain activity determined using functional magnetic resonance imaging. We show that objective social inequality, as defined by our model, is tracked in posterior insula cortex. Crucially, this inequality is integrated with social context in posterior and mid-insula, consistent with construction of a fairness motivation that flexibly adapted to the social environment. We suggest that the dual importance of objective and contextual aspects to fairness we highlight might explain seemingly inconsistent societal phenomena, including public attitudes to income disparities.

Original publication

DOI

10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3138-10.2011

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurosci

Publication Date

06/04/2011

Volume

31

Pages

5244 - 5252

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Decision Making, Female, Games, Experimental, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Interpersonal Relations, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Models, Psychological, Oxygen, Psychometrics, Social Justice, Time Factors, Young Adult