Prosocial Motivation Increases Framing Bias in Risky Decisions for Others – Professor Vincent Mak (University of Cambridge)

November 4, 2020 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
David Young

People regularly make risky and even life-changing decisions for others under varying levels of prosocial motivation. In a series of experiments with more than 700 participants from two populations, we show that increasing prosocial motivation increases a decision-maker’s susceptibility to the classic gain/loss framing bias when making risky decisions for others. Conversely, reducing prosocial motivation reduces or even eliminates the bias. Our experiments involved real payment and hypothetical scenarios in financial and healthcare decisions. Our results show that prosocial motivation has an asymmetric impact in gain versus loss framing. As prosocial motivation increases/decreases, decision-makers become more/less risk averse in the gain frame without commensurate changes in the loss frame. Our findings suggest that risky decision-making is more inconsistent for people you care for than for people you do not care for. Moreover, loss-frame decisions are less susceptible to the influence of prosocial motivation than gain-frame decisions.

Professor Mak is a Professor of Marketing and Decision Sciences at the Cambridge Judge Business School.

Zoom link to follow.

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