Published on December 11, 2018 | Updated on January 29, 2019

CORTEX conference by Daniel Houser

October 30th, 2014

Behavioural and neural signatures of betrayal aversion

Decisions are said to be ‘risky’ when they are made in environments with uncertainty caused by nature. In contrast, a decision is said to be ‘trusting’ when its outcome depends on the uncertain decisions of another person. A rapidly expanding literature reveals economically important differences between risky and trusting decisions, and further suggests these differences are due to ‘betrayal aversion’. We discuss behavioral experiments supporting the hypothesis that betrayal aversion stems from a desire to avoid negative emotions that arise from learning one's trust was betrayed. We proceed to discuss evidence from an fMRI study that supports this hypothesis. In particular, we present data indicating that the anterior insula modulates trusting decisions that involve the possibility of betrayal.