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Title: The effect of social rewards and punishments on learning and cooperative decision-making
Author: Beston, Pippa
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 5657
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores how exposure to social information affects decision-making in two different domains. In one, I use a unique variant of the Public Goods Game (PGG) paradigm to examine how social and monetary punishments and rewards alter decisions to cooperate in the interpersonal domain. At the intrapersonal level, I examine how exposure to social rewards affects implicit learning (and the neural signature thereof) in a novel task. In the first two empirical chapters, I compared how the opportunity to interact face-to-face, versus traditional anonymous interactions, influenced cooperative decision-making in the PGG. This work additionally examined whether different punishment types (i.e., social-reputational and/or monetary) affected contribution behaviour across interaction context. In the anonymous context, monetary sanctions were the most effective in promoting cooperation. However, in the face-to-face context, social punishments were most effective. Additionally, group interaction positivity on a given trial predicted investment on the next. In the second empirical chapter, I examined the effects of rewards on cooperation. In contrast to punishment, monetary rewards were more effective in maintaining contributions than social rewards in the face-to-face context. In this case, the incentive to gain a good reputation may have been so explicit that it 'crowded-out' cooperation. In the final empirical chapter, I asked participants to implicitly learn the rules of a novel card game and compared the effectiveness of social versus non-social feedback. Here, I used event-related potential (ERP) methodology to examine the neural markers of learning. After learning, we found differences in the strength of ERP components between the social and non-social feedback groups across task conditions. These results suggest that socially salient feedback alters the process of implicit learning. Together, this work shows that exposure to social information affects cooperative decision-making during the Public Goods Game, and also alters the neural signature of implicit learning. Thus, although challenging to capture, this thesis has begun to account for the social factors that affect people's every-day decisions.
Supervisor: Heerey, Erin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available