The Role of Social Cognition and Person Perception in Economic Social Decision-Making
Social decision-making is often complex, requiring the decision-maker to make social inferences about another person in addition to engaging traditional decision-making processes. However, until recently, much research in neuroeconomics and behavioral economics has examined social decision-making while failing to take into account the importance of the social context and social cognitive processes that are engaged when viewing another person. Using social psychological theory to guide our hypotheses, four research studies investigate the role of social cognition and person perception in guiding economic decisions made in social contexts. The first study (Chapter 2) demonstrates that only specific types of social information engage brain regions implicated in social cognition and hinder learning in social contexts. Study 2 (Chapter 3) extends these findings and examines contexts in which this social information is used to generalize across contexts to form predictions about another person’s behavior. Study 3 (Chapter 4) demonstrates that under certain contexts these social cognitive processes may be withheld in order to more effectively complete the task at hand. Last, Study 4 (Chapter 5) examines how this knowledge of social cognitive processing can be used to change behavior in a prosocial group context. Taken together, these studies add to the growing body of literature examining decision-making in social contexts and highlight the importance of social cognitive processing in guiding these decisions. Although social cognitive processing typically facilitates social interactions, these processes may alter economic decision-making in social contexts.
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