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I will Share with You Because You are Kind: How Saying “Thank you” Pays Off in Repeated Zero-Sum Resource Allocation Exchanges
The current research examines how gratitude (vs. neutral) expression indirectly reinforces prosocial resource-allocation decisions in repeated zero-sum social exchanges. Drawing upon the emotion as social information (EASI) model, we found in three experiments that counterpart (recipient) gratitude (vs. neutral) expression regarding participants’ (allocators’) resource-allocation proposal in Exchange 1 evoked participants’ perception of their counterpart’s benevolence (when the proposal was accepted). Consistent with self-determination theory, participants’ perception of their counterpart’s benevolence led to their prosocial resource-allocation decision toward their counterpart in Exchange 2 due to their prosocial motivation, independently from and jointly with their obligatory motivation. Notably, in all experiments, participants’ obligatory motivation attenuated the positive link between their prosocial motivation and prosocial resource-allocation decision in Exchange 2. Our findings highlight that expressing gratitude in repeated zero-sum social exchanges is a desirable strategy for shaping a counterpart’s benevolence perception and motivating the counterpart to make a prosocial resource-allocation decision.