Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Changes in Sympathetic Tone during Cooperative Game Play

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Changes in Sympathetic Tone during Cooperative Game Play

Article excerpt

We investigated the relationship between stress (specifically, sympathetic tone) and effective and efficient cooperation between partners using a cooperative version of a Tetris game as a model of limited resources in a shared environment. Participants were recruited from 2 distinct sociocultural orientations: individualism (Americans) and collectivism (Japanese). We compared the frequency domain of heart rate variability (HRV) and average scores on the short form of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (I-PANAS-SF) for individuals and dyad partners. Japanese players cooperated more effectively and their scores on the positive subscale of the I-PANAS-SF for both self and partner were higher than those of American players. However, Japanese participants experienced more stress, as indicated by an increased low-to-high HRV frequency ratio. Our results suggest that sociocultural orientation affects the motivation to promote prosocial interactions that result in efficiency and effectiveness of cooperation.

Keywords: collectivism, individualism, stress, sympathetic tone, heart rate variability, positive affect, negative affect, video game, Tetris.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a marker of psychological stress that affects behavioral performance and this marker has been widely used in social science research (Dulleck, Schaffner, & Torgler, 2014). Increased HRV is associated with an increased ability to make group decisions related to fairness and reciprocity (Sütterlin, Herbert, Schmitt, Kübler, & Vögele, 2011b). However, is not yet well understood how increased stress (sympathetic tone) and decreased high frequency (HF) power spectrum HRV affect human cooperation. It has been shown that counterproductive workplace behaviors may be directly related to stress and negative affect (Penney & Spector, 2005). When an individual is tasked with making decisions within a group, there are many stressful variables that can lead to poor choices and, ultimately, conflict. Classic paradigms like the prisoner's dilemma or the dictator game are often used to investigate social orientation and altruism (Batson & Moran, 1999; Batson & Powell, 2003). Although these models are common, behaviors observed over the course of the games often conflict with the more self-centered behavior predicted by standard game theory (Brosig, 2002). Cooperation relies, rather, on complex psychological processes and events, including shared intentions and mutually coordinated joint action, that have not been taken into consideration in these models (Engemann, Bzdok, Eickhoff, Vogeley, & Schilbach, 2012). Furthermore, cooperative behavior is not necessarily equivalent across cultures and people in some cultures may be more effective at cooperating owing to social obligations that are part of that culture (Neuliep, 2012). Culture has also been shown to play a role in conflict resolution, whereby people in collectivistic, as opposed to individualistic, cultures tend to cooperate to reach resolution more effectively (Boros, Meslec, Curseu, & Emons, 2010).

Therefore, we reasoned that it would be intriguing to examine the relationship between perceived stress and the effectiveness and efficiency of cooperation among people whose sociocultural orientations were different as they were playing a dynamic, cooperative game. For this purpose, we recruited two groups, one of which was composed of racially heterogeneous Americans and the other homogeneous Japanese. This choice was based on the well-described differences of these two groups in individualistic preferences (Hofstede, 1980) as well on as their social differences in cooperation (Yamagishi, 1988). In the Japanese culture, there is a social requirement for people to put the needs of the group above those of the individual, whereas in the American culture, the focus on independence is often viewed in opposition to this society-first requirement (Raeff, 1997).

In order to simulate the substantially equal workload of cooperation across different cultural groups, we used Tetris, which is a 30-year-old interactive video game played by more than 148 million people around the world (Loguidice & Barton, 2012; Wikipedia, n. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.