Social evaluation-induced amylase elevation and economic decision-making in the dictator game in humans.

OBJECTIVE: Little is known regarding the relationship between social evaluation-induced neuroendocrine responses and generosity in game-theoretic situations. Previous studies demonstrated that reputation formation plays a pivotal role in prosocial behavior. This study aimed to examine the relationships between a social evaluation-induced salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) response and generosity in the dictator game. The relationship is potentially important in neuroeconomics of altruism and game theory.

METHODS: We assessed sAA and allocated money in the dictator game in male students with and without social evaluation. RESULTS Social evaluation-responders allocated significantly more money than controls; while there was no significant correlation between social evaluation-induced sAA elevation and the allocated money.

CONCLUSIONS: Social evaluation significantly increases generosity in the dictator game, and individual differences in trait characteristics such as altruism and reward sensitivity may be important determinants of generosity in the dictator game task.

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