ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (4): 385-397.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00385

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Influence of empathic concern on fairness-related decision making: Evidence from ERP

HE Yijuan, HU Xinmu, MAI Xiaoqin()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
  • Received:2021-04-15 Published:2022-04-25 Online:2022-02-21
  • Contact: MAI Xiaoqin


Using event-related potential (ERP) and ultimatum game (UG), this study investigated the influence of empathic concern on fairness-related decision making. The experiment adopted a 2 (state empathic concern: empathy vs. non-empathy) × 3 (fairness: fair vs. disadvantageous unfair vs. advantageous unfair) within-subject design. A total of 37 participants participated in the experiment, and they were asked to choose whether to accept offers from different proposers as responders. Behavior results showed that the acceptance rate of empathy condition was higher than that of non-empathy condition for disadvantageous unfair offers, and the opposite result was observed for advantageous unfair offers. ERP results revealed that for disadvantageous unfair offers, the non-empathy condition elicited a more negative-going anterior N1 (AN1) than the empathy condition, and the empathy condition elicited a larger P2 amplitude than the non-empathy condition. In the empathy context, the disadvantageous unfair condition elicited more negative-going medial frontal negativity (MFN) than the advantageous unfair and fair condition. P3 of fair condition was larger than that of disadvantageous unfair condition, which was not modulated by empathy. These results indicated that empathy modulated not only fairness-related decision making behavior, but also early attention and motivation as well as later cognitive and emotional processing in fairness. However, the higher cognitive processes characterized by P3 were only modulated by fairness but not affected by empathy.

Key words: fairness-related decision making, empathic concern, AN1, P2, MFN