ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (5): 633-644.

• Reports of Empirical Studies •

### Effects of others’ reference points and psychological distance on self-other welfare tradeoff in gain and loss situations

GAO Juan1,WANG Peng1,Xiao Tian WANG2,SUN Qian1,LIU Yongfang1()

1. 1 School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
2 School of Humanities and Social Science, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen 518172, China
• Received:2019-09-29 Published:2020-05-25 Online:2020-03-26
• Contact: Yongfang LIU E-mail:yfliu@psy.ecnu.edu.cn

Abstract:

Previous studies on self-other welfare tradeoff focus more on the gain situations than the loss situations. Numerous studies have explored the influence of social distance on the tradeoff but ignored the complex interactions among gain and loss situations, others’ reference points, and psychological distance.
This study investigated the influences of others’ reference points and psychological distance on self-other welfare tradeoff in gain and loss situations by using welfare tradeoff rate (WTR) as an index of altruistic degree in self-other welfare tradeoff. In Experiment 1, the effect of WTR on the gain and loss situations and its mechanism were explored. In Experiment 2, others’ reference points were added as another factor to examine their influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations. In Experiment 3, the psychological distance variable was further introduced to investigate its influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations and others’ reference points.
Results of Experiment 1 showed no significant difference in WTR between gain and loss situations. In Experiment 2, WTR in the gain situation was found to be significantly higher than that in the loss situation, and WTR was reduced when others approached the bottom line, goal, and status quo. Further analyses showed that the WTR under the gain situation was significantly higher than that under the loss situation when others approached the bottom line. Meanwhile, no significant difference was observed in the WTR under the gain and loss situations when others approached the status quo and goal. In Experiment 3, the WTR of close psychological distance was found to be higher than that of far psychological distance, and the main effect of gain and loss situations disappeared. Psychological distance had complex interaction effects with gain and loss situations and others’ reference points.
These findings contribute to a deep understanding of the asymmetric effects of gain and loss situations, tri-reference-point theory, and related findings from studies on social discounting and self-other decision- making differences. They also have certain practical implications for individuals, organizations, and countries in understanding and dealing with the relationships between ones’ selves and others.

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