Effect of Uncertainty on Competitive Behavior

Duncan J. Drewry, Maxwell Klein, Zachary Reese, and Dr. Colleen Seifert, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor MI 48109

How does cosmic uncertainty — the general feeling that the world lacks a higher power, order, or meaning — affect social decision-making? Some prior studies suggest that whether conditions are certain or uncertain, people default to cooperative behavior (Zuckerman 1975; Torii & Hidaka, 2015); yet, there too exists research which suggests that uncertainty leads to more competitive behavior (Burleigh & Meegan, 2017). These conflicting findings create a gap in our understanding of how circumstances of uncertainty impact competitive behavior. In order to resolve this conflict, we will conduct two studies wherein we differentiate between task uncertainty and a more global (cosmic) sense of uncertainty. The first study will examine the relationship between two dispositional forms of (un)certainty — belief in a just world and ambiguity tolerance — and competitive behavior. We have already recruited data from participants (N = 153) who engaged in a prisoner’s dilemma task; data will be analyzed in a multiple logistic regression predicting a person’s decision to cooperate/compete from each individual difference measure. Following data analysis, we will follow this exploratory study with a confirmatory study in which we experimentally manipulate belief in a just world and/or outcome ambiguity to test the effect more rigorously. In sum, we aim to shed light on how people’s beliefs about the world drive their decisions to compete or cooperate.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Duncan Drewry, Maxwell Klein

Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6584