New paper on neural signatures of different behavioral types in fairness norm compliance

Gianotti, L.R.R., Nash, K., Baumgartner, T., Dahinden, F.M. & Knoch, D.

Fairness norm compliance is critical in any society. However, norm compliant behavior is very heterogeneous. Some people are reliably fair (voluntary compliers). Some are fair to avoid sanctions (sanction-based compliers), and some are reliably unfair (non-compliers). These types play divergent roles in society. However, they remain poorly understood. Here, we combined neural measures (resting electroencephalography and event-related potentials) and economic paradigms to better understand these types. We found that voluntary compliers are characterized by higher baseline activation in the right temporo-parietal junction, suggesting better social cognition capacity compared to sanctionbased compliers and non-compliers. The latter two types are differentiated by (a) baseline activation in the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex, a brain area known to be involved in self-control processes, and (b) event-related potentials in a classic self-control task. Both results suggest that sanctionbased compliers have better self-control capacity than non-compliers. These findings improve our understanding of fairness norm compliance. Broadly, our findings suggest that established training techniques that boost self-control might help non-compliers adhere to fairness norms.

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