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Social Preferences as an Individual Difference in Offender Decision-making

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 56 Issue: 1 Dated: 2019 Pages: 129-169
Date Published
41 pages

This study examined the relationship between social preference game behavior and offender status and tested whether this relationship was attributed to genuine prosocial preferences or confounded by individual differences in future orientation, sensation- seeking, and risk-taking.


Offenders appeared to be more self-interested, as indicated by smaller offers in the dictator game. This relationship, however, was attributed to differences in future orientation between the two groups rather than differences in social preferences. Net of demographic controls and competing theoretical mechanisms, however, offenders made smaller offers in the ultimatum game. The study concludes that this finding revealed differences in strategic decision-making between the two groups. Results suggest that offenders were not distinguishable from nonoffenders by individual differences in social preferences. Although nonoffenders made larger offers in both games, this finding was attributed to differences in temporal orientation and risk-taking rather than differences in prosocial preferences. This supported the rational choice assumption of self-interest and highlighted differences in strategic decision-making between offenders and nonoffenders. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019