Different Behavioral Types of Distributional Preferences Are Characterized by Distinct Neural Signatures

Koch, Katharina; Gianotti, Lorena R.R.; Hausfeld, Jan; Studler, Mirjam; Knoch, Daria (2021). Different Behavioral Types of Distributional Preferences Are Characterized by Distinct Neural Signatures. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 1-14. MIT Press 10.1162/jocn_a_01751

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There are many situations where resources are distributed between two parties and where the deciding party has information about the initial distribution and can change its outcome, for example, the allocation of budget for funds or bonuses, where the deciding party might have self-interested motives. Although the neural underpinnings of distributional preferences of resources have been extensively studied, it remains unclear if there are different types of distributional preferences and if these types underlie different disposing neural signatures. We used source-localized resting EEG in combination with a data-driven clustering approach to participants' behavior in a distribution game in order to disentangle the neural sources of the different types of distributional preferences. Our findings revealed four behavioral types: Maximizing types always changed initial distributions to maximize their personal outcomes, and compliant types always left initial distributions unchanged. Disadvantage-averse types only changed initial distributions if they received less than the other party did, and equalizing types primarily changed initial distributions to fair distributions. These behavioral types differed regarding neural baseline activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus. Maximizing and compliant types showed the highest baseline activation, followed by disadvantage-averse types and equalizing types. Furthermore, maximizing types showed significantly higher baseline activation in the left OFC compared to compliant types. Taken together, our findings show that different types of distributional preferences are characterized by distinct neural signatures, which further imply differences in underlying psychological processes in decision-making.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Koch, Katharina Sophia, Gianotti, Lorena, Hausfeld, Jan, Studler, Mirjam, Knoch, Daria


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




MIT Press


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Andrea Gassmann-Suter

Date Deposited:

07 Sep 2021 15:17

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:52

Publisher DOI:






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