Scientific article
Open access

Learning rules of engagement for social exchange within and between groups

Publication date2023-05-09
First online date2023-05

Globalizing economies and long-distance trade rely on individuals from different cultural groups to negotiate agreement on what to give and take. In such settings, individuals often lack insight into what interaction partners deem fair and appropriate, potentially seeding misunderstandings, frustration, and conflict. Here, we examine how individuals decipher distinct rules of engagement and adapt their behavior to reach agreements with partners from other cultural groups. Modeling individuals as Bayesian learners with inequality aversion reveals that individuals, in repeated ultimatum bargaining with responders sampled from different groups, can be more generous than needed. While this allows them to reach agreements, it also gives rise to biased beliefs about what is required to reach agreement with members from distinct groups. Preregistered behavioral ( N = 420) and neuroimaging experiments ( N = 49) support model predictions: Seeking equitable agreements can lead to overly generous behavior toward partners from different groups alongside incorrect beliefs about prevailing norms of what is appropriate in groups and cultures other than one’s own.

  • Bayesian modeling
  • Bargaining
  • Beliefs
  • Cooperation
  • Social neuroscience
Research group
  • European Commission - Characterizing information integration in reinforcement learning: a neuro-computational investigation [948671]
  • European Commission - Pressured to Attack: How Carrying-Capacity Stress Creates and Shapes Intergroup Conflict [785635]
Citation (ISO format)
ROJEK-GIFFIN, Michael et al. Learning rules of engagement for social exchange within and between groups. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2023, vol. 120, n° 19, p. e2218443120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2218443120
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0027-8424

Technical informations

Creation07/15/2023 1:13:08 PM
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