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

one euro each only, or whether they wanted to have a higher amount i.e., 6 euros divided up. However, the latter variant came with a risk. So, for example, the other player might get as much as 5.60 euros while the Bonn player would be left with only 40 Cents. The actual dividing of the amount, which came in a second step, could be left either to one's partner or to the computer. However, the computer gave out exactly the same decisions as the real test subjects. "So, from the point of view of winnings, there was no difference whether the other player or the machine divided the amount," explained Prof. Weber. "And the subjects had explicitly been told so from the very start."

Even though the winnings were exactly the same in the end, more subjects put their trust into the computer. When the money was divided by the computer, 63 percent of subjects trusted the process and only 37 percent preferred taking just the one euro. But if the arrangement was that the human partners would make the decision, only 49 percent of test subjects trusted them 51 percent would rather take the more secure, small amount. "These results show that more subjects prefer to leave risky decisions in which they may be betrayed to an impersonal device, thus avoiding the negative feeling that comes from having wrongly trusted a human," said Prof. Weber, adding that obviously a breach of trust committed by an impersonal computer was less emotionally stressful than if had been a private business partner.

The brain's frontal insula was especially active

The University of Bonn's subjects also showed interesting brain activities as measured in MRI scans. In the process of making financial decisions, the frontal insula was especially active when it was another player who made the decision on how to divide the amount. "This area of the brain is always involved when negative emotions such as pain, disappointment or fear are activated," explained Prof. Weber. He a
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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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