April 20, 2021

The sensitivity of third party punishment to the framing effect and its brain mechanism

Third-party judgment and the follow-up punishment might be susceptible to the way we frame (i.e., verbally describe) a norm violation. We conducted two experiments to investigate this "third-party framing effect" phenomenon. Participants observed an anonymous player A decided whether to retain her/his economic benefit while exposing player B to a risk of physical pain (described as "harming others" or "not helping others" in two frames), then they had a chance to punish A at their own cost. Participants were more willing to execute third-party punishment under the harm frame compared to the help frame, manifesting as a framing effect. Self-reported moral outrage toward player A mediated the relationship between empathy toward player B and the framing effect size. The insula and cerebellum were activated more strongly under the harm frame than the help frame. These findings shed light on the psychological and neural mechanisms of the third-party framing effect.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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