Please wait a minute...
   2012, Vol. 44 Issue (6) : 797-806     DOI:
The Context-Dependency of Fairness Processing: Evidence from ERP Study
WU Yan;ZHOU Xiao-Lin
(1 Department of Psychology, School of Educational Science, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 310026, China)
(2 Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China)
Download: PDF(458 KB)  
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks    
Abstract  In human society, sharing losses is at least as common as sharing gains. Although the psychological and neural processes underlying the latter have been investigated in depth, those related to the former are not clear. Our recent study demonstrates an increased demand for fairness under adversity (e.g. loss sharing). Here we investigated how our brain encodes unfairness in the loss and gain domains using event-related potentials (ERP) technique. We adopted the Ultimatum Game (UG) to probe the processes related to fairness consideration in either gain or loss domain. In UG, two players, the proposer and the responder, bargain on how to divide a certain amount of money endowed by the experimenter. The proposer suggests a division policy, on which the responder evaluates and decides whether to accept. Upon acceptance, the money is divided as suggested; while rejection results in both players going empty-handed. Participants, as responders, were required to decide whether to accept an offer that was either fair (equal or nearly equal division) or unfair in both gain and loss domain. Offers were either made by the human partner or by the computer partner. Behavioral results replicated our previous findings that the rejection rate of unfair offers was higher in the loss than in the gain domain. ERP results revealed that the N1 amplitude was more pronounced for human partners compared with computer partners, however, this effect was only observed in the gain domain. When interacting with computer partners, unfair offers and offers in the loss domain were associated with larger N350 compared with fair offers and offers in the gain domain, and offers in the gain domain elicited larger P2 than offers in the loss domain, whereas fair offers and offers in the gain domain were associated with larger LPP than unfair offers and offers in the loss domain. In addition, these differences in ERP responses were diminished when the interacting partners were humans. These findings suggest that fairness processing is modulated by the property of the partner and gain-loss domain. In human-computer interaction, unfair offers and offers in the loss domain elicit more inhibition and conflict resolving process, while fair offers and offers in the gain domain are more motivationally significant to human. The present findings support the view that fairness processing is context-dependent, in which factors like gain-loss domain and the property of the partner play a role.
Keywords fairness      gain-loss domain      Ultimatum Game      ERP      N1      N350      LPP     
Corresponding Authors: WU Yan   
Issue Date: 28 June 2012
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
WU Yan
ZHOU Xiao-Lin
Cite this article:   
WU Yan,ZHOU Xiao-Lin. The Context-Dependency of Fairness Processing: Evidence from ERP Study[J]. , 2012, 44(6): 797-806.
URL:     OR
[1] Lili WANG,Wenfeng FENG,Lina JIA,Xiangru ZHU,Wenbo LUO,Suyong YANG,Yue-jia LUO. Emotional processing of winning and losing facial expression and body posture[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(8): 892-906.
[2] YANG Qingqing, HU Na, CHEN Xu, NIU Juan, ZHAI Jing.  Electrophysiological evidences of different emotional regulation strategies between the avoidant and the secure attachment individuals in the context of lovers, intimacy[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(3): 306-316.
[3] TAO Aihua, LIU Yonghe, WANG Pei.  Moderating effects of conflict types on disappointment in interpersonal conflict[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(2): 235-242.
[4] HAN Meng, MAO Xinrui, CAI Mengtong, JIA Xi, GUO Chunyan.  The effect of positive and negative signs on the SNARC effect in the magnitude judgment task[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(8): 995-1008.
[5] 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.
[6] ZHANG Shuwei.  Social justice, institutional trust and public cooperation intention[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(6): 794-813.
[7] DUAN Jinyun; SHI Jiayi; LING Bin. The influence of high commitment organization on employee voice behavior: A dual-process model examination[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(4): 539-553.
[8] YANG Zhaoning; GU Zibei; WANG Dujuan; TAN Xuyun; WANG Xiaoming. The effect of anger and sadness on prosocial decision making: The role of the interpersonal attribution of responsibility[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(3): 393-403.
[9] ZHAO Simin; WU Yan; LI Tianhong; GUO Qingtong. Morpho-semantic processing in Chinese word recognition: An ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(3): 296-306.
[10] LIU Wen, ZHANG Xue, ZHANG Yu, YU Ruiwei.  Fairness cognition-behavior gap in 4~8 year-old children: The role of social comparison[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(12): 1504-1512.
[11] CUI Liying, HE Xing, LUO Junlong, HUANG Xiaojiao, CAO Weijia, CHEN Xiaomei.  The effects of moral punishment and relationship punishment on junior middle school students’ cooperation behaviors in public goods dilemma[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(10): 1322-1333.
[12] LUO Yu, FENG Lihong, REN Min, GU Qiuyu, ZHAO Shouying, ZHANG Yu.  The effect of perceptual load on processing and memorizing negative facial distractor[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(10): 1256-1266.
[13] ZHANG Lin; LIU Shen; XU Qiang; WU Xiaoyan; YANG Mengyuan. Long-term effect of violence exposure in real-life on aggressive behaviors: A moderated mediation model[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(1): 50-59.
[14] LI Caina; SUN Ying; TUO Rui; LIU Jia. The effects of attachment security on interpersonal trust: The moderating role of attachment anxiety[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 989-1001.
[15] LIU Fang; DING Jinhong; ZHANG Qin. Positive affect and selective attention: Approach-motivation intensity influences the early and late attention processing stages[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(7): 794-803.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech