Research Library

Humans make decisions across a variety of social contexts. Though social decision making research has blossomed in recent decades, surprisingly little is known about whether social decision making preferences are consistent across different domains. We conducted an exploratory study in which participants made choices about two types of close others, parents and friends. To elicit decision making preferences, we pit the interests in parents and friends against one another. To assess the consistency of social preferences for close others, decision making occurred in three domains—risk taking, probabilistic learning, and self-other similarity judgments. If social decision making preferences are consistent across domains, participants ought to exhibit the same preference in all three domains (i.e., a parent preference, based on prior work), and individual differences in preference magnitude ought to be conserved across domains within individuals. A combination of computational modeling, random coefficient regression, and traditional statistical tests indicated that parent-over-friend preferences were present in all three domains and that individual differences regarding the magnitude of this preference were consistent across domains. These results suggest that domain-specific social decision making preferences may rely on common, underlying psychological processes.