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A majority prefers letting computers decide
Date:3/19/2014

When individuals engage in risky business transactions with each other, they may end up being disappointed. This is why they'd rather leave the decision on how to divvy up jointly-owned monies to a computer than to their business partner. This subconscious strategy seems to help them avoid the negative emotions associated with any breaches of trust. This is the result of a study by scientists from the University of Bonn and US peers. They are presenting their findings in the scientific journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society B."

Trust is an essential basis for business relationships. However, this basis can be shaken if one business partner exhibits dishonest behavior. "Everyone knows that trust can be shattered in risky businesses," explained Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber from the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn. "As a result, people are not all that eager to put their trust in others." Scientists call this attitude "betrayal aversion" people try to avoid being disappointed by potential breaches of trust.

In a current study, Prof. Weber and his US colleagues, Prof. Dr. Jason A. Aimone from Baylor University and Prof. Dr. Daniel Houser from George Mason University examined in experiments the effects betrayal aversion has on simple financial decisions. A total of 30 subjects played a computer game at George Mason University in Arlington, VA (USA) that promised real monies to the winners. At the Life & Brain Zentrum of the University of Bonn, the same number of subjects then made their decisions based on the results of the earlier experiment. And while the Bonn subjects were responding to their gaming partners' decisions made earlier in Arlington, their brain activity was measured by means of MRI scans.

Sharing fairly or making a profit at the other person's expense?

In this experiment, the test subjects in Bonn were able to select whether they and their US partners would get
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Contact: Dr. Bernd Weber
bernd.weber@ukb.uni-bonn.de
49-228-688-5262
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert  

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