OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the role of emotions in rejection of unfair offers in an ultimatum game, which is of interest in neuroeconomics of fairness.
METHODS: Thirty-seven participants played a one-shot ultimatum game as responders and decided whether to accept or reject the unfair offers by the proposers. Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) was assessed before and after the ultimatum game.
RESULTS: Forty-four percent of the participants rejected the unfair offers. While sAA levels of the participants who rejected the unfair offers increased between pre- and post-experiment, sAA levels of the participants who accepted the unfair offers remain unchanged.
CONCLUSIONS: Emotional stress response was observed when participants rejected the unfair offers. Our results indicated that rejection of the unfair offers is a reflection of emotional arousal associated with adrenergic activations.