Neural basis of egalitarian behavior

Christopher Dawes, Peter John Loewen, Darren Schreiber, Alan N. Simmons, Taru Flagan, Richard McElreath, Scott E. Bokemper, James H. Fowler, Martin P. Paulus

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Individuals are willing to sacrifice their own resources to promote equality in groups. These costly choices promote equality and are associated with behavior that supports cooperation in humans, but little is known about the brain processes involved. We use functional MRI to study egalitarian preferences based on behavior observed in the "random income game." In this game, subjects decide whether to pay a cost to alter group members' randomly allocated incomes. We specifically examine whether egalitarian behavior is associated with neural activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the insular cortex, two regions that have been shown to be related to social preferences. Consistent with previous studies, we find significant activation in both regions; however, only the insular cortex activations are significantly associated with measures of revealed and expressed egalitarian preferences elicited outside the scanner. These results are consistent with the notion that brain mechanisms involved in experiencing the emotional states of others underlie egalitarian behavior in humans.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)6479-6483
    Number of pages5
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume109
    Issue number17
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 24 2012

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    Cerebral Cortex
    Brain
    Prefrontal Cortex
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    Costs and Cost Analysis

    Keywords

    • Behavioral economics
    • Egalitarianism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

    Cite this

    Dawes, C., Loewen, P. J., Schreiber, D., Simmons, A. N., Flagan, T., McElreath, R., ... Paulus, M. P. (2012). Neural basis of egalitarian behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(17), 6479-6483. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118653109

    Neural basis of egalitarian behavior. / Dawes, Christopher; Loewen, Peter John; Schreiber, Darren; Simmons, Alan N.; Flagan, Taru; McElreath, Richard; Bokemper, Scott E.; Fowler, James H.; Paulus, Martin P.

    In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 109, No. 17, 24.04.2012, p. 6479-6483.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Dawes, C, Loewen, PJ, Schreiber, D, Simmons, AN, Flagan, T, McElreath, R, Bokemper, SE, Fowler, JH & Paulus, MP 2012, 'Neural basis of egalitarian behavior', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 109, no. 17, pp. 6479-6483. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118653109
    Dawes C, Loewen PJ, Schreiber D, Simmons AN, Flagan T, McElreath R et al. Neural basis of egalitarian behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012 Apr 24;109(17):6479-6483. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118653109
    Dawes, Christopher ; Loewen, Peter John ; Schreiber, Darren ; Simmons, Alan N. ; Flagan, Taru ; McElreath, Richard ; Bokemper, Scott E. ; Fowler, James H. ; Paulus, Martin P. / Neural basis of egalitarian behavior. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012 ; Vol. 109, No. 17. pp. 6479-6483.
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