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The effect of partner-directed emotion in social exchange decision-making

Eimontaite, Iveta; Nicolle, Antoinette; Schindler, Igor; Goel, Vinod


Iveta Eimontaite

Antoinette Nicolle

Vinod Goel


Despite the prevalence of studies examining economic decision-making as a purely rational phenomenon, common sense suggests that emotions affect our decision-making particularly in a social context. To explore the influence of emotions on economic decision-making, we manipulated opponent-directed emotions prior to engaging participants in two social exchange decision-making games (the Trust Game and the Prisoner's Dilemma). Participants played both games with three different (fictional) partners and their tendency to defect was measured. Prior to playing each game, participants exchanged handwritten “essays” with their partners, and subsequently exchanged evaluations of each essay. The essays and evaluations, read by the participant, were designed to induce either anger, sympathy, or a neutral emotional response toward the confederate with whom they would then play the social exchange games. Galvanic skin conductance level (SCL) showed enhanced physiological arousal during anger induction compared to both the neutral and sympathy conditions. In both social exchange games, participants were most likely to defect against their partner after anger induction and least likely to defect after sympathy induction, with the neutral condition eliciting intermediate defection rates. This pattern was found to be strongest in participants exhibiting low cognitive control (as measured by a Go/no-Go task). The findings indicate that emotions felt toward another individual alter how one chooses to interact with them, and that this influence depends both on the specific emotion induced and the cognitive control of the individual.


Eimontaite, I., Nicolle, A., Schindler, I., & Goel, V. (2013). The effect of partner-directed emotion in social exchange decision-making. Frontiers in Psychology, 4(JUL), Article UNSP 469.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2013
Online Publication Date Jul 25, 2013
Publication Date Aug 27, 2013
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Frontiers in psychology
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue JUL
Article Number UNSP 469
Keywords Anger, Sympathy, Decision-making, Social exchange, Prisoner's dilemma, Trust game, Cognitive control, Emotion
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an open access article published in Frontiers in psychology, 2013, v.4.


12754 Schindler.pdf (1.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2013 Eimontaite, Nicolle, Schindler and Goel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

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