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Physiological and behavioral patterns of corruption.

Jaber-López T, García-Gallego A, Perakakis P, Georgantzis N - Front Behav Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: The inspection and punishment mechanism is such that, if a bribe is (not) revealed, both corrupt agents (the denouncing bidder) lose(s) this period's payoffs.Generally speaking, our findings suggest that stronger emotions are associated with decisions deviating from pure monetary reward maximization, rather than with (un)ethical behavior per se.In fact, using response times as a measure of the subject's reflection during the decision-making process, we can associate emotional arousal with the conflict between primary or instinctive and secondary or contemplative motivations and, more specifically, with deviations from the subject's pure monetary interest.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratorio de Economía Experimental, Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I Castellón, Spain.

ABSTRACT
We study the behavior and emotional arousal of the participants in an experimental auction, leading to an asymmetric social dilemma involving an auctioneer and two bidders. An antisocial transfer (bribe) which is beneficial for the auctioneer (official) is paid, if promised, by the winner of the auction. Some pro-social behavior on both the auctioneers' and the bidders' sides is observed even in the absence of any punishment mechanism (Baseline, Treatment 0). However, pro-social behavior is adopted by the vast majority of subjects when the loser of the auction can inspect the transaction between the winner and the auctioneer (Inspection, Treatment 1). The inspection and punishment mechanism is such that, if a bribe is (not) revealed, both corrupt agents (the denouncing bidder) lose(s) this period's payoffs. This renders the inspection option unprofitable for the loser and is rarely used, especially toward the end of the session, when pro-social behavior becomes pervasive. Subjects' emotional arousal was obtained through skin conductance responses. Generally speaking, our findings suggest that stronger emotions are associated with decisions deviating from pure monetary reward maximization, rather than with (un)ethical behavior per se. In fact, using response times as a measure of the subject's reflection during the decision-making process, we can associate emotional arousal with the conflict between primary or instinctive and secondary or contemplative motivations and, more specifically, with deviations from the subject's pure monetary interest.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Emotional responses. (A) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T0). (B) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T1). (C) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T0). (D) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T1).
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Figure 2: Emotional responses. (A) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T0). (B) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T1). (C) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T0). (D) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T1).

Mentions: From the discussion so far, we have seen that in our setup intrinsic pro-social motivations co-exist with extrinsic motivations like standard monetary reward maximization and the additional threat of punishment for anti-social behavior. Having created these motivations in the laboratory environment, we are now interested in the emotions triggered by different stages of the decision-making process, as well as by the feedback received. Figure 2 displays average SCRs associated to decisions made by officials and firm-subjects. Specifically, Figure 2A shows SCRs related to officials' project assignment decisions in T0. We compare the average SCR related to decisions favorable to bribes with those favorable to a bribe-free bid. We find that decisions deviating from monetary maximization are associated to higher arousal than those giving the license to bribers as dictated by monetary reward maximization (significant differences at p < 0.05 were found at a latency range between 6.27 and 7.08 s post-stimulus). Figure 2B shows SCRs corresponding to the officials' project assignment decisions in T1. In this case, decisions opting for the bid with a bribe demonstrate a higher emotional response (p < 0.05 between 11.8 and 12.2 s). Before interpreting these findings, we turn to the decisions of firm-subjects. Figure 2C compares the average SCRs associated to decisions made by firms at the moment of posting their bids in T0. Decisions not to bribe entail an increased emotional arousal compared to those who do bribe (p < 0.01 between 3.57 and 4.71 s). Finally, Figure 2D represents the same decision event in the inspection treatment (T1), where higher arousal is associated with bribing (p < 0.01 between 2.45 and 2.72 s). Therefore, higher arousal levels in T0 are not associated with bribe-giving or bribe-taking but, rather, with individually unprofitable choices. Contrary to T0, in T1, higher arousal levels are associated with bribery. However, observe that while accepting or offering a bribe in T0 is a dominant strategy if we assume that subjects are bribe-neutral and maximize own monetary payoffs, in T1, bribes entail the risk of a significant monetary loss, rendering anti-social behavior individually unprofitable. Thus, a coherent explanation of the 4 patterns observed in Figure 2 is that higher arousal levels correspond to decisions deviating from the objective of maximizing the decision-maker's monetary reward. It is interesting to note that such exciting decisions deviate from the majority choice. In fact, the results obtained for T1 under the threat of being discovered and punished are in accordance with those obtained by Coricelli et al. (2010) and Coricelli et al. (2014), indicating that the negative emotions found in those studies were more likely related with the fear of being discovered to evade than with regret due to non-compliance with a pro-social norm. Therefore, an alternative way to frame or complement the aforementioned explanation is that subjects deviating from pure monetary reward maximization do not only deviate from the strategy dictated by their own pecuniary interest, but also from the strategy chosen by the majority of subjects. An important implication of this finding is that, when choosing in the presence of conflicting motivations, human actions do not equalize (dis)utilities across the alternatives available to them. Instead, conflicts are reflected on emotions which persist after the decision is made and they are perceived stronger, the more a given decision deviates from the basic motivation of monetary reward maximization. Therefore, skin conductance results show an interesting overall pattern concerning bribers. They demonstrate higher arousal when they do not bribe in the baseline treatment and when they do in the inspection one, namely, when they opt for the least common and potentially least profitable strategy in each case. Bribe-takers react in a similar manner, indicating that passive bribery carries also a moral burden.


Physiological and behavioral patterns of corruption.

Jaber-López T, García-Gallego A, Perakakis P, Georgantzis N - Front Behav Neurosci (2014)

Emotional responses. (A) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T0). (B) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T1). (C) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T0). (D) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T1).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4273640&req=5

Figure 2: Emotional responses. (A) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T0). (B) Officials' SCR following project choice screen (T1). (C) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T0). (D) Firms' SCR following bid decision screen (T1).
Mentions: From the discussion so far, we have seen that in our setup intrinsic pro-social motivations co-exist with extrinsic motivations like standard monetary reward maximization and the additional threat of punishment for anti-social behavior. Having created these motivations in the laboratory environment, we are now interested in the emotions triggered by different stages of the decision-making process, as well as by the feedback received. Figure 2 displays average SCRs associated to decisions made by officials and firm-subjects. Specifically, Figure 2A shows SCRs related to officials' project assignment decisions in T0. We compare the average SCR related to decisions favorable to bribes with those favorable to a bribe-free bid. We find that decisions deviating from monetary maximization are associated to higher arousal than those giving the license to bribers as dictated by monetary reward maximization (significant differences at p < 0.05 were found at a latency range between 6.27 and 7.08 s post-stimulus). Figure 2B shows SCRs corresponding to the officials' project assignment decisions in T1. In this case, decisions opting for the bid with a bribe demonstrate a higher emotional response (p < 0.05 between 11.8 and 12.2 s). Before interpreting these findings, we turn to the decisions of firm-subjects. Figure 2C compares the average SCRs associated to decisions made by firms at the moment of posting their bids in T0. Decisions not to bribe entail an increased emotional arousal compared to those who do bribe (p < 0.01 between 3.57 and 4.71 s). Finally, Figure 2D represents the same decision event in the inspection treatment (T1), where higher arousal is associated with bribing (p < 0.01 between 2.45 and 2.72 s). Therefore, higher arousal levels in T0 are not associated with bribe-giving or bribe-taking but, rather, with individually unprofitable choices. Contrary to T0, in T1, higher arousal levels are associated with bribery. However, observe that while accepting or offering a bribe in T0 is a dominant strategy if we assume that subjects are bribe-neutral and maximize own monetary payoffs, in T1, bribes entail the risk of a significant monetary loss, rendering anti-social behavior individually unprofitable. Thus, a coherent explanation of the 4 patterns observed in Figure 2 is that higher arousal levels correspond to decisions deviating from the objective of maximizing the decision-maker's monetary reward. It is interesting to note that such exciting decisions deviate from the majority choice. In fact, the results obtained for T1 under the threat of being discovered and punished are in accordance with those obtained by Coricelli et al. (2010) and Coricelli et al. (2014), indicating that the negative emotions found in those studies were more likely related with the fear of being discovered to evade than with regret due to non-compliance with a pro-social norm. Therefore, an alternative way to frame or complement the aforementioned explanation is that subjects deviating from pure monetary reward maximization do not only deviate from the strategy dictated by their own pecuniary interest, but also from the strategy chosen by the majority of subjects. An important implication of this finding is that, when choosing in the presence of conflicting motivations, human actions do not equalize (dis)utilities across the alternatives available to them. Instead, conflicts are reflected on emotions which persist after the decision is made and they are perceived stronger, the more a given decision deviates from the basic motivation of monetary reward maximization. Therefore, skin conductance results show an interesting overall pattern concerning bribers. They demonstrate higher arousal when they do not bribe in the baseline treatment and when they do in the inspection one, namely, when they opt for the least common and potentially least profitable strategy in each case. Bribe-takers react in a similar manner, indicating that passive bribery carries also a moral burden.

Bottom Line: The inspection and punishment mechanism is such that, if a bribe is (not) revealed, both corrupt agents (the denouncing bidder) lose(s) this period's payoffs.Generally speaking, our findings suggest that stronger emotions are associated with decisions deviating from pure monetary reward maximization, rather than with (un)ethical behavior per se.In fact, using response times as a measure of the subject's reflection during the decision-making process, we can associate emotional arousal with the conflict between primary or instinctive and secondary or contemplative motivations and, more specifically, with deviations from the subject's pure monetary interest.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratorio de Economía Experimental, Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I Castellón, Spain.

ABSTRACT
We study the behavior and emotional arousal of the participants in an experimental auction, leading to an asymmetric social dilemma involving an auctioneer and two bidders. An antisocial transfer (bribe) which is beneficial for the auctioneer (official) is paid, if promised, by the winner of the auction. Some pro-social behavior on both the auctioneers' and the bidders' sides is observed even in the absence of any punishment mechanism (Baseline, Treatment 0). However, pro-social behavior is adopted by the vast majority of subjects when the loser of the auction can inspect the transaction between the winner and the auctioneer (Inspection, Treatment 1). The inspection and punishment mechanism is such that, if a bribe is (not) revealed, both corrupt agents (the denouncing bidder) lose(s) this period's payoffs. This renders the inspection option unprofitable for the loser and is rarely used, especially toward the end of the session, when pro-social behavior becomes pervasive. Subjects' emotional arousal was obtained through skin conductance responses. Generally speaking, our findings suggest that stronger emotions are associated with decisions deviating from pure monetary reward maximization, rather than with (un)ethical behavior per se. In fact, using response times as a measure of the subject's reflection during the decision-making process, we can associate emotional arousal with the conflict between primary or instinctive and secondary or contemplative motivations and, more specifically, with deviations from the subject's pure monetary interest.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus