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Exploring the trade-off between quality and fairness in human partner choice

Raihani, NJ; Barclay, P; (2016) Exploring the trade-off between quality and fairness in human partner choice. Royal Society Open Science , 3 , Article 160510. 10.1098/rsos.160510. Green open access

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Abstract

Partner choice is an important force underpinning cooperation in humans and other animals. Nevertheless, the mechanisms individuals use to evaluate and discriminate among partners who vary across different dimensions are poorly understood. Generally, individuals are expected to prefer partners who are both able and willing to invest in cooperation but how do individuals prioritize the ability over willingness to invest when these characteristics are opposed to one another? We used a modified Dictator Game to tackle this question. Choosers evaluated partners varying in quality (proxied by wealth) and fairness, in conditions when wealth was relatively stable or liable to change. When both partners were equally fair (or unfair), choosers typically preferred the richer partner. Nevertheless, when asked to choose between a rich-stingy and a poor-fair partner, choosers prioritized fairness over wealth—with this preference being particularly pronounced when wealth was unstable. The implications of these findings for real-world partner choice are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring the trade-off between quality and fairness in human partner choice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160510
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160510
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright & Usage © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: partner choice; biological market theory; quality; fairness
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1526453
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