Neurocomputational models of altruistic decision‐making and social motives: Advances, pitfalls, and future directions

Anita Tusche, Lisa M. Bas
2021 Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science  
This article discusses insights from computational models and social neuroscience into motivations, precursors, and mechanisms of altruistic decision-making and other-regard. We introduce theoretical and methodological tools for researchers who wish to adopt a multilevel, computational approach to study behaviors that promote others' welfare. Using examples from recent studies, we outline multiple mental and neural processes relevant to altruism. To this end, we integrate evidence from
more » ... ing, psychology, economics, and formalized mathematical models. We introduce basic mechanisms-pertinent to a broad range of value-based decisions-and social emotions and cognitions commonly recruited when our decisions involve other people. Regarding the latter, we discuss how decomposing distinct facets of social processes can advance altruistic models and the development of novel, targeted interventions. We propose that an accelerated synthesis of computational approaches and social neuroscience represents a critical step towards a more comprehensive understanding of altruistic decision-making. We discuss the utility of this approach to study lifespan differences in social preference in late adulthood, a crucial future direction in aging global populations. Finally, we review potential pitfalls and recommendations for researchers interested in applying a computational approach to their research. This article is categorized under: Economics > Interactive Decision-Making Psychology > Emotion and Motivation Neuroscience > Cognition Economics > Individual Decision-Making.
doi:10.1002/wcs.1571 pmid:34340256 pmcid:PMC9286344 fatcat:jbdr7pfsbjfbtijnufcuuye4lu