A neural trait approach to exploring individual differences in social preferences
Research demonstrates that social preferences are characterized by signiﬁcant individual differences. An important question, often overlooked, is from where do these individual differences originate? And what are the processes that underlie such differences? In this paper, we outline the neural trait approach to uncovering sources of individual differences in social preferences, particularly as evidenced in economic games. We focus on two primary methods—resting-state electroencephalography and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—used by researchers to quantify task-independent, brain-based characteristics that are stable over time. We review research that has employed these methods to investigate social preferences with an emphasis on a key psychological process in social decision-making; namely, self-control. We then highlight future opportunities for the neural trait approach in cutting-edge decision-making research. Finally,weexplorethedebateaboutself-controlinsocialdecision-makingandthepotential role neural trait research could play in this issue.