Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress

Christiaan H Vinkers, Jelle V Zorn, Sandra Cornelisse, Susanne Koot, Lotte C Houtepen, Berend Olivier, Joris C Verster, René S Kahn, Marco P M Boks, Tobias Kalenscher, Marian Joëls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Decisions are rarely made in social isolation. One phenomenon often observed in social interactions is altruistic punishment, i.e. the punishment of unfair behavior by others at a personal cost. The tendency for altruistic punishment is altered by affective states including those induced by stress exposure. Stress is thought to exert bi-directional effects on behavior: immediately after stress, reflex-like and habitual behavior is promoted while later on more far-sighted, flexible and goal-directed behavior is enhanced. We hypothesized that such time-dependent effects of stress would also be present in the context of altruistic punishment behavior. Healthy male participants (N=80) were exposed to either a grouped stress test or a control condition. Participants were tested in prosocial decision making tasks either directly after stress or 75 min later. Altruistic punishment was assessed using the Ultimatum Game. General altruism was assessed with a one-shot version of the Dictator Game in which an anonymous donation could be offered to a charitable organization. We found that stress caused a bi-directional effect on altruistic punishment, with decreased rejection rates in the late aftermath of stress in response to ambiguous 30% offers. In the Dictator Game, stressed participants were less generous than controls, but no time-dependent effect was observed, indicating that the general reward sensitivity remained unchanged at various time-points after stress. Overall, during the late aftermath after acute stress exposure (i.e. 75 min later), participants acted more consistent with their own material self-interest, and had a lower propensity for altruistic punishment, possibly through upregulation of cognitive self-control mechanisms. Thus, our findings underscore the importance of time as a factor in simple, real-life economic decisions in a stressful social context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-75
Number of pages9
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume38
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Cite this

Vinkers, C. H., Zorn, J. V., Cornelisse, S., Koot, S., Houtepen, L. C., Olivier, B., ... Joëls, M. (2013). Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1467-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.012
Vinkers, Christiaan H ; Zorn, Jelle V ; Cornelisse, Sandra ; Koot, Susanne ; Houtepen, Lotte C ; Olivier, Berend ; Verster, Joris C ; Kahn, René S ; Boks, Marco P M ; Kalenscher, Tobias ; Joëls, Marian. / Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress. In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 ; Vol. 38, No. 9. pp. 1467-75.
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Vinkers, CH, Zorn, JV, Cornelisse, S, Koot, S, Houtepen, LC, Olivier, B, Verster, JC, Kahn, RS, Boks, MPM, Kalenscher, T & Joëls, M 2013, 'Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress' Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 38, no. 9, pp. 1467-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.012

Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress. / Vinkers, Christiaan H; Zorn, Jelle V; Cornelisse, Sandra; Koot, Susanne; Houtepen, Lotte C; Olivier, Berend; Verster, Joris C; Kahn, René S; Boks, Marco P M; Kalenscher, Tobias; Joëls, Marian.

In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 38, No. 9, 09.2013, p. 1467-75.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress

AU - Vinkers, Christiaan H

AU - Zorn, Jelle V

AU - Cornelisse, Sandra

AU - Koot, Susanne

AU - Houtepen, Lotte C

AU - Olivier, Berend

AU - Verster, Joris C

AU - Kahn, René S

AU - Boks, Marco P M

AU - Kalenscher, Tobias

AU - Joëls, Marian

N1 - Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PY - 2013/9

Y1 - 2013/9

N2 - Decisions are rarely made in social isolation. One phenomenon often observed in social interactions is altruistic punishment, i.e. the punishment of unfair behavior by others at a personal cost. The tendency for altruistic punishment is altered by affective states including those induced by stress exposure. Stress is thought to exert bi-directional effects on behavior: immediately after stress, reflex-like and habitual behavior is promoted while later on more far-sighted, flexible and goal-directed behavior is enhanced. We hypothesized that such time-dependent effects of stress would also be present in the context of altruistic punishment behavior. Healthy male participants (N=80) were exposed to either a grouped stress test or a control condition. Participants were tested in prosocial decision making tasks either directly after stress or 75 min later. Altruistic punishment was assessed using the Ultimatum Game. General altruism was assessed with a one-shot version of the Dictator Game in which an anonymous donation could be offered to a charitable organization. We found that stress caused a bi-directional effect on altruistic punishment, with decreased rejection rates in the late aftermath of stress in response to ambiguous 30% offers. In the Dictator Game, stressed participants were less generous than controls, but no time-dependent effect was observed, indicating that the general reward sensitivity remained unchanged at various time-points after stress. Overall, during the late aftermath after acute stress exposure (i.e. 75 min later), participants acted more consistent with their own material self-interest, and had a lower propensity for altruistic punishment, possibly through upregulation of cognitive self-control mechanisms. Thus, our findings underscore the importance of time as a factor in simple, real-life economic decisions in a stressful social context.

AB - Decisions are rarely made in social isolation. One phenomenon often observed in social interactions is altruistic punishment, i.e. the punishment of unfair behavior by others at a personal cost. The tendency for altruistic punishment is altered by affective states including those induced by stress exposure. Stress is thought to exert bi-directional effects on behavior: immediately after stress, reflex-like and habitual behavior is promoted while later on more far-sighted, flexible and goal-directed behavior is enhanced. We hypothesized that such time-dependent effects of stress would also be present in the context of altruistic punishment behavior. Healthy male participants (N=80) were exposed to either a grouped stress test or a control condition. Participants were tested in prosocial decision making tasks either directly after stress or 75 min later. Altruistic punishment was assessed using the Ultimatum Game. General altruism was assessed with a one-shot version of the Dictator Game in which an anonymous donation could be offered to a charitable organization. We found that stress caused a bi-directional effect on altruistic punishment, with decreased rejection rates in the late aftermath of stress in response to ambiguous 30% offers. In the Dictator Game, stressed participants were less generous than controls, but no time-dependent effect was observed, indicating that the general reward sensitivity remained unchanged at various time-points after stress. Overall, during the late aftermath after acute stress exposure (i.e. 75 min later), participants acted more consistent with their own material self-interest, and had a lower propensity for altruistic punishment, possibly through upregulation of cognitive self-control mechanisms. Thus, our findings underscore the importance of time as a factor in simple, real-life economic decisions in a stressful social context.

KW - Adult

KW - Altruism

KW - Decision Making/physiology

KW - Games, Experimental

KW - Group Processes

KW - Humans

KW - Hydrocortisone/analysis

KW - Male

KW - Mathematics

KW - Performance Anxiety/physiopathology

KW - Personal Satisfaction

KW - Punishment/psychology

KW - Reward

KW - Saliva/chemistry

KW - Salivary alpha-Amylases/analysis

KW - Social Behavior

KW - Speech/physiology

KW - Stress, Psychological/physiopathology

KW - Testosterone/analysis

KW - Time Factors

KW - Young Adult

U2 - 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.012

DO - 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.012

M3 - Article

VL - 38

SP - 1467

EP - 1475

JO - Psychoneuroendocrinology

JF - Psychoneuroendocrinology

SN - 0306-4530

IS - 9

ER -