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Biol Psychol. 2017 Jul;127:89-98. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.04.012. Epub 2017 May 2.

Social value orientation modulates the FRN and P300 in the chicken game.

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School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Fuzhou University, China.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware, USA.
Department of Psychology, Ningbo University, Ningbo, China.
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Fuzhou University, China. Electronic address:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware, USA. Electronic address:


Social dilemmas pervade daily life, business, and politics. The manners in which these dilemmas are resolved depend in part on the personal characteristics of those involved. One such characteristic is Social Value Orientation (SVO), a trait-like predisposition to maximize cooperative (Pro-Social) or non-cooperative (Pro-Self) outcomes in social relationships. The present study investigated the role of SVO in modulating neural responses to outcomes in a type of social dilemma known as the Chicken Game. The Chicken Game models real-world situations involving two parties independently making a decision between cooperation and aggression. The EEG of Pro-Socials and Pro-Selfs was recorded while playing Chicken with a computer Opponent. Two ERP components were extracted: Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN) and the P300. Despite no behavioral differences in decision (i.e., cooperation, aggression), FRN results indicate that Pro-Socials experienced unreciprocated cooperation as the least desired outcome. Further, P300 results show a main effect for the Opponent's choice, such that the Opponent's cooperation was more salient than aggression. Additionally, an interaction between the Participant's and Opponent's choice showed that the effect for the Opponent's choice only occurred when the Participant chose cooperation. None of the results for P300 were moderated by SVO. For both ERP components, Pro-Selfs showed no differential responding to Chicken outcomes. In addition, FRN magnitude on trial n predicted choice on trial n+1 for Pro-Socials, but not for Pro-Selfs. P300 magnitude on trial n showed no relationship to choice on trial n+1. Results indicate that individual differences in SVO modulate FRN responses to Chicken outcomes, and that these neural reactions may have utility in predicting subsequent behaviors. For P300, there is no evidence of SVO modulation. Our general pattern of FRN responsiveness in Pro-Socials, but not in Pro-Selfs, is related to similar findings in fMRI and EEG research.


FRN; P300; Pro-self; Pro-social; Social value orientation

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