Cognitive Factors Affecting the Use of Social Decision Heuristics in Resource-Sharing Tasks Academic Article uri icon


  • Two experiments investigated the use of equal division as a social decision heuristic in a group resource-sharing task. We proposed that group members use equality as a decision heuristic to the extent that environmental cues making the rule salient are present and to the extent that competing cues are absent. In Study 1, subjects were provided with justification for being the first group member to withdraw resources from a common pool. The results showed that subjects for whom the justification was prototypical of resource-sharing situations were more likely to violate equality than were subjects with nonprototypical justifications. Study 2 investigated the extent to which arbitrary role assignments within a group affect choice behavior. As predicted, subjects assigned the role of “supervisor” made resource requests that exceeded an equal share, whereas subjects assigned the roles of either “leader” or “guide” made choices that corresponded almost precisely with equal division. Our results underscore the importance of examining implicit knowledge structures about resource-sharing situations and their implications for choice. © 1994 Academic Press, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

author list (cited authors)

  • Samuelson, C. D., & Allison, S. T

citation count

  • 90

complete list of authors

  • Samuelson, Charles D||Allison, Scott T

publication date

  • April 1994