Theory of mind and the Ultimatum Game in healthy adult aging.Exp Aging Res. 2018 May-Jun; 44(3):246-257.EA
The Ultimatum Game assesses decision-making involved in cooperative interactions with others. However, little is known about the role that the ability to understand other people's intentions plays in these interactions.
This study examined performance on the Ultimatum Game and theory of mind (ToM) tasks in younger and older adults.
Age differences were not found on the ToM tasks, and a lack of variability in performance prevented analyses of the relationships between performance on the Ultimatum Game and ToM. However, age differences were found on the Ultimatum Game, with older adults accepting more unfair offers. Yet, the two age groups did not differ in their appreciation of fairness, as assessed using subjective fairness ratings.
These findings suggest that older adults are more rational in their behavior, accepting unfair offers even when they know they are unfair, as it is in their self-interest to accept small monetary values rather than nothing at all.