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Description: Receiving a favor from another person may induce a negative feeling of indebtedness for the beneficiary. In this study, we explore these hidden costs by developing and validating a conceptual model of indebtedness across three studies that combine a large-scale online questionnaire, an interpersonal game, computational modeling, and neuroimaging. Our model captures how individuals perceive the altruistic and strategic intentions of the benefactor. These inferences produce distinct feelings of guilt and obligation that together comprise indebtedness and motivate reciprocity. Perceived altruistic intentions convey care and communal concern and are associated with activity in insula, ventromedial prefrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, while inferred strategic intentions convey expectations of future reciprocity and are associated with activation in temporal parietal junction and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. We further develop a neural utility model of indebtedness using multivariate patterns of brain activity that captures the tradeoff between these feelings and reliably predicts reciprocity behavior. This paper has been preprinted on bioRxiv: Gao, X., Jolly, E., Yu, H., Liu, H., Zhou, X., & Chang, L. J. (2020). The hidden cost of receiving favors: A theory of indebtedness. bioRxiv.doi: In this repository, we share the data of study 3 (fMRI study), including the unthresholded first-level contrast images of each participant, and the unthresholded second-level images for univariate analysis and MVPA. For the analysis codes and the behavioral data of Studies 1 and 2, please see our Github repository:

License: GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0


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