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Serotonin and Social Norms: Tryptophan Depletion Impairs Social Comparison and Leads to Resource Depletion in a Multiplayer Harvesting Game

Bilderbeck, A.C. and Brown, G.D. and Read, J. and Woolrich, M. and Cowen, P.J. and Behrens, T.E.J. and Rogers, R.D. (2014) Serotonin and Social Norms: Tryptophan Depletion Impairs Social Comparison and Leads to Resource Depletion in a Multiplayer Harvesting Game. Psychological Science, 25 (7). pp. 1303-1313. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614527830

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Abstract

How do people sustain resources for the benefit of individuals and communities and avoid the tragedy of the commons, in which shared resources become exhausted? In the present study, we examined the role of serotonin activity and social norms in the management of depletable resources. Healthy adults, alongside social partners, completed a multiplayer resource-dilemma game in which they repeatedly harvested from a partially replenishable monetary resource. Dietary tryptophan depletion, leading to reduced serotonin activity, was associated with aggressive harvesting strategies and disrupted use of the social norms given by distributions of other players� harvests. Tryptophan-depleted participants more frequently exhausted the resource completely and also accumulated fewer rewards than participants who were not tryptophan depleted. Our findings show that rank-based social comparisons are crucial to the management of depletable resources, and that serotonin mediates responses to social norms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neurosciences
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Health and Behavioural Sciences > School of Psychology
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 16:30
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 02:58
ISSN: 0956-7976
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/332
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1177/0956797614527830
Publisher: Sage Publications
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