Decision Making Journal Club

Neural Affective Mechanisms Predict Market-Level Microlending

Humans sometimes share with others whom they may never meet or know, in violation of the dictates of pure self-interest. Research has not established which neuropsychological mechanisms support lending decisions, nor whether their influence extends to markets involving significant financial incentives. In two studies, we found that neural affective mechanisms influence the success of requests for microloans. In a large Internet database of microloan requests (N = 13,500), we found that positive affective features of photographs promoted the success of those requests. We then established that neural activity (i.e., in the nucleus accumbens) and self-reported positive arousal in a neuroimaging sample (N = 28) predicted the success of loan requests on the Internet, above and beyond the effects of the neuroimaging sample’s own choices (i.e., to lend or not). These findings suggest that elicitation of positive arousal can promote the success of loan requests, both in the laboratory and on the Internet. They also highlight affective neuroscience’s potential to probe neuropsychological mechanisms that drive microlending, enhance the effectiveness of loan requests, and forecast market-level behavior.