Social Preferences Are Learned and Adapt to the Social Environment

29.11.2022 - 13:45 to 15:15
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231 und online via Zoom
Type of Event : 
AB A-Kolloquium
Heiko Rauhut
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Zürich

Zoom link can be requested at mzes-colloquia-a [at]


Cooperation is among the most defining features of human lives, the emergence of social institutions and the integration of societies. Over the last decades, countless experiments demonstrated that cooperative behavior is motivated by intrinsic social preferences such as altruism. However, there is less research beyond such controlled lab and simulation studies. This talk covers three original field studies investigating how social preferences change over the life course and in different social environments. The sub-studies include: (1) A network panel study (N=1’217) showing that juveniles become more altruistic when being embedded in altruistic friendship networks. (2) A hair-toxicological study on substance use and prosociality (N=1’003), demonstrating that stimulant users are more selfish. (3) A representative survey (N=777) showing that gender-related differences in social preferences decrease with increasing age. Taken together, the results suggest that social preferences are learned and that they adapt to the social environment actors are embedded in.