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Frontiers in Psychology


Inequity aversion, Reciprocity, Cooperation, Learning, Points vs. money


Cooperation among unrelated individuals can evolve through reciprocity. Reciprocal cooperation is the process in which lasting social interactions provide the opportunity to learn about others' behavior, and to further predict the outcome of future encounters. Lasting social interactions may also decrease aversion to unequal distribution of gains – when individuals accept inequity payoffs knowing about the possibility of future encounters. Thus, reciprocal cooperation and aversion to inequity can be complementary phenomena. The present study investigated the effects of cooperative and uncooperative interactions on participants' aversion to disadvantageous inequity. Participants played an experimental task in the presence of a confederate who acted as a second participant. In reality, the participant interacted with a computer programed to make cooperative and uncooperative choices. After interacting with a cooperative or uncooperative computer, participants chose between blue cards to produce larger gains to the computer and smaller for him/her or green cards to produce equal and smaller gains for both. Results confirmed our first hypothesis that uncooperative interactions would produce aversion to disadvantageous inequity. Lastly, half of the participants were informed that points received during the experiment could be later exchanged for money, and half were not. Results indicated that information about monetary outcomes did not affect aversion to inequity, contradicting our second hypothesis. We discuss these results in the light of theories of reciprocal cooperation, inequity aversion, and conformity.

Grant Information

Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino is supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Grant #465686/2014-1), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, Grant # 2014/50909-8), and by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Grant #88887.136407/2017-00). CS received a CNPq PhD scholarship (grant n° 142483/2015-0) and CAPES Sandwich Doctorate Program grant (grant n° 88881.186870/2018-01). Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet, Oslo, Norway) funded the publication fee (Case no.:20/00125).



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© 2021 Suarez, Benvenuti, Couto, Siqueira, Abreu-Rodrigues, Lionello-DeNolf and Sandaker.

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