Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2018, Vol. 50 Issue (3) : 317-326     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00317
 Brain dynamics of decision-making in the generalized trust game: Evidence from ERPs and EEG time-frequency analysis
 FU Chao1,2; ZHANG Zhen1; HE Jinzhou3; HUANG Silin4; QIU Jianyin5; WANG Yiwen1,2
 (1 Institute of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350116, China) (2 School of Economics and Management, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350116, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Chung Yuan Christian University, Taoyuan 32023, China) (4 Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (5 Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China)
Download: PDF(1170 KB)   Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info
Abstract   Human societies are unique in terms of large-scale social cooperation and trust between unrelated people (generalized trust). As an important social signaling mechanism, generalized trust reduces transaction costs, facilitates cooperative behavior, and promotes human society’s prosperity. The question of why and when people trust each other has important implications for human social interaction and economic decision-making. Previous fMRI research utilizing the Trust Game has revealed brain regions involved in the decision to trust, including medial prefrontal cortex, caudate nucleus, amygdala, insula and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. However, the extant research has failed to clearly reveal neurophysiological mechanisms of the investor’s decision-making in the Trust Game. To investigate the time course and neural oscillation courses of trust decision-making, we recorded the electroencephalographic (EEG) data of 21 healthy human participants while they played the role of trustor in the one-shot Trust Game; in this game, participants made decisions to trust or distrust the counterpart. In addition to behavioral data analysis and event-related potential (ERP) analysis, we also conducted spectral analysis to examine the neural oscillations underlying the trust game responses. Behavioral results indicated that participants made trusting decisions more than chance. Electrophysiological results suggested that distrusting choices induced a more negative N2 and a less positive P3 than did trusting choices. Spectral analysis results showed that the beta-band (18~28 Hz, 250~350 ms) power for distrusting choices was significantly larger than trusting choices; this may suggest greater inhibitory control exerted to distrust. Moreover, trusting choice after a negative outcome elicited a significant higher beta-band (15~20 Hz, 150~300 ms) power than did trusting choice after a positive outcome, while the beta-band power for distrusting choice after a negative outcome was similar compared to distrusting choice after a positive outcome. Our study provided some new insights into the psychophysiological processes underlying human’s decisions to trust strangers. Specifically, when making a decision to trust or distrust the counterpart, the distrusting choice induced a larger N2 than did the trusting choice, which may reflect greater cognitive control to inhibit trusting behavior. On the other hand, a more positive going P3 for the trusting choice than the distrusting choice may suggest that increased attention and motivation are associated with the trusting behavior. Moreover, the increased beta power across frontal areas for distrusting choices might reflect frontal inhibitory processes. These findings highlight the ingrained norm of cooperation and trust in modern societies, and provide preliminary spatio-temporal and spectral results understanding human’s decision-making in the one-shot Trust Game.
Keywords generalized trust      decision-making      N2      P3      Time-frequency analysis     
Corresponding Authors: WANG Yiwen, E-mail:; QIU Jianyin, E-mail:     E-mail: E-mail:; E-mail:
Issue Date: 01 February 2018
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
FU Chao
HE Jinzhou
QIU Jianyin
WANG Yiwen
Cite this article:   
FU Chao,ZHANG Zhen,HE Jinzhou, et al.  Brain dynamics of decision-making in the generalized trust game: Evidence from ERPs and EEG time-frequency analysis[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(3): 317-326.
URL:     OR
[1] Bonini Nicolao,Hadjichristidis Constantinos,Graffeo Michele. Green nudging[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(8): 814-826.
[2] WANG Yiwen, FU Chao, REN Xiangfeng, LIN Yuzhong, GUO Fengbo.  Narcissistic personality modulates outcome evaluation in the trust game[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(8): 1080-1088.
[3] FU Yilei, LUO Yuejia, CUI Fang.  Consistency of choice modulates outcome evaluation: Evidence from ERP studies[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(8): 1089-1099.
[4] CHENG Jiaping; LUO Yuejia; CUI Fang. Empathy for pain influenced by cognitive load: Evidence from an ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 622-630.
[5] CHEN Jiaxin; HE Guibing. Taking money and environment together: The role of relative values in composite risky decision-making[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(4): 500-512.
[6] CHEN Qing; HE Quan; CHEN Guangyao; GUO Yuezhi; ZHANG Hejing; HE Xianyou. The perspective-distance effect hypothesis: Different perspectives and thinking modes lead to different decision-making performance in complex condition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(3): 383-392.
[7] FAN Wei; ZHONG Yiping; YANG Zilu; LI Jin; OUYANG Yi. The degree of self-reference effect of extroversion individuals[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 1002-1012.
[8] HU Yanmei; ZHANG Ming. Electrophysiological evidence for memory-based attentional capture and memory-based attentional rejection effects[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(1): 12-21.
[9] WANG Yiwen; ZHANG Zhen; YUAN Sheng; GUO Fengbo; HE Shaoying; JING Yiming. The Decision-making and Outcome Evaluation during a Repeated Trust Game[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(8): 1028-1038.
[10] GAO Xuemei; WENG Lei; ZHOU Qun; ZHAO Cai; LI Fang. Dose Violent Offenders Have Lower Capacity of Empathy for Pain: Evidence from ERPs[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(4): 478-487.
[11] LU Qingyun;TAO Fangbiao;HOU Fangli;SUN Ying. Cortisol Reactivity to Stress and Decision–making in Adolescents: There is Gender Difference[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(5): 647-655.
[12] DOU Weiwei;ZHENG Xifu;YANG Huifang;WANG Junfang;LI Yue;E Xiaotian;Chen Qianqian. The Effect of Cognitive Distraction’s Intensity on the Process of Trauma-related Information: Evidence from ERP[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(5): 656-665.
[13] DOU Wei;QU Lulu;QU Chen. Social Comparison Affects Outcome Evaluation in The Cooperative Task: An ERP Study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(3): 405-414.
[14] ZHONG Yiping;FAN Wei;CAI Ronghua;TAN Qianbao;XIAO Lihui;ZHAN Youlong;LUO Xi;QIN Minhui. The Influence of Positive Emotion on the Degree Effect in Self-referential Processes: Evidence from ERPs[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(3): 341-352 .
[15] PAN Lu; QIAN Xiuying. Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risk-Preference in Dynamic Repeated Decision-Making[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(12): 1860-1870.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech