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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02557

Outcome-based evaluations of social interaction valence in a contingent response context

 Jun Yin1*, Xiaoyan He1, Yisong Yang1 and Xiaoying Wu2
  • 1Ningbo University, China
  • 2Zhejiang University, China

Previous studies have indicated that social evaluations rely heavily on the outcome of an actor’s behavior toward a recipient. These studies focused on interactions in which two agents are connected by an external goal (i.e., object-mediated social interaction), and revealed that the intent behind an action has a privileged role in evaluating the valence of a social interaction. The current study investigated whether the intent behind an action influences evaluation of contingent social interactions wherein one agent responds to another without referring to a specific target. To clarify this, we operationalized intent as harmful or harmless when one agent hit another (i.e., recipient), and manipulated the action’s outcome by determining to what extent it changed the recipient’s state (i.e., falling down or moving slightly). Results showed that in contingent interactions with both direct launching (i.e., the actor directly caused the change) and extended launching (i.e., the actor caused the change through a mediated block), when the action significantly affected the recipient, the agents were evaluated as having a more negative social interaction than when the influence was small; this effect was independent of the intent behind the action. Such findings demonstrated that evaluations of contingent social interactions are primarily influenced by an actor’s causal role in the outcome, not the intent behind an action. This null effect of intent when evaluating social interaction contrasts with findings on object-mediated social interaction, which is consistent with human social evaluations relying on two dissociable systems: causal and intentional components.

Keywords: social interaction, Contingent interaction, Intent, Outcome, causality

Received: 13 Jun 2019; Accepted: 29 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Yin, He, Yang and Wu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jun Yin, Ningbo University, Ningbo, China, yinjun1@nbu.edu.cn