is our reward

Publications in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

It has recently been proposed that a key motivation for joining groups is the protection from the negative consequences of undesirable outcomes. To test this claim, we investigated how experienced outcomes triggering loss and regret impacted people’s tendency to decide alone or join a group, and how decisions differed when voluntarily made alone versus in group. Replicated across two experiments, participants (n = 125 and n = 496) selected whether to play alone or contribute their vote to a group decision. Next, they chose between two lotteries with different probabilities of winning and losing. The higher the negative outcome, the more participants switched from deciding alone to with others. When joining a group to choose the lottery, choices were less driven by outcome and regret anticipation. Moreover, negative outcomes experienced alone, not part of a group vote, led to worse subsequent choices than positive outcomes. These results suggest that the protective shield of the collective reduces the influence of negative emotions that may help individuals re-evaluate past choices.

Research field(s)
Natural Sciences, Biology, Evolutionary Biology