In others' shoes : Do individual differences in empathy and theory of mind shape social preferences?
- Publisher: Public Library of Science
Applied Mathematics | Statistics (Mathematics) | Research Article | Biology and Life Sciences | Cognitive Psychology | Decision Theory | BF | Behavioral Matrix | Mathematics | Neuroscience | Decision Analysis | Engineering and Technology | Management Engineering | Intelligence | Human Intelligence | Economics | Physical Sciences | Psychology | Social Psychology | Social Sciences | Economic Models | Behavior | Cognitive Science
Abundant evidence across the behavioral and social sciences suggests that there are substantial individual differences in pro-social behavior. However, little is known about the psychological mechanisms that underlie social preferences. This paper investigates whether empathy and Theory of Mind shape individual differences in pro-social behavior as conventionally observed in neutrally framed social science experiments. Our results show that individual differences in the capacity for empathy do not shape social preferences. The results qualify the role of Theory of Mind in strategic interaction. We do not only show that fair individuals exhibit more accurate beliefs about the behavior of others but that Theory of Mind can be effectively used to pursue both self-interest and pro-social goals depending on the principle objectives of a person.