The impacts of racial group membership on people's distributive justice: An event-related potential study

Yan Wang, Yi Yuan Tang, Yuqin Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


How individuals and societies distribute benefits has long been studied by psychologists and sociologists. Previous work has highlighted the importance of social identity on people's justice concerns. However, it is not entirely clear how racial in-group/out-group relationship affects the brain activity in distributive justice. In this study, event-related potentials were recorded while participants made their decisions about donation allocation. Behavioral results showed that racial in-group factor affected participants' decisions on justice consideration. Participants were more likely to make relatively equity decisions when racial in-group factor was congruent with equity compared with the corresponding incongruent condition. Moreover, this incongruent condition took longer response times than congruent condition. Meanwhile, less equity decisions were made when efficiency was larger in the opposite side to equity than it was equal between the two options. Scalp event-related potential analyses revealed that greater P300 and late positive potential amplitudes were elicited by the incongruent condition compared with the congruent condition. These findings suggest that the decision-making of distributive justice could be modulated by racial group membership, and greater attentional resources or cognitive efforts are required when racial in-group factor and equity conflict with each other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 16 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Distributive justice
  • Efficiency
  • Equity
  • Event-related potentials
  • Racial group membership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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