Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Matt Jones

Second Advisor

Robert Pasnau

Third Advisor

Michael Saddoris


Social Value Orientations (SVOs) represent an individual’s preferred outcome in resource allocation decisions. The four main SVOs are Altruism, Prosocial, Individualism, and Competitive. A review of literature on SVOs and their relationship to the important topic of social dilemmas is discussed. After this the results of the current study are presented. This study attempted to prime the different types of SVOs through presentation of outcomes from previous decisions. The different formats for these presentations were modeled after the utility functions of the four main SVOs. Presenting results of prior decisions in these different formats was predicted to act as a goal prime for subsequent decisions, pushing subject’s SVOs towards the primed SVO. A significant effect between results presentation and SVO was found. Another significant effect was found between results presentation and Prosocial type, which distinguishes between the two different motivations, Inequality Aversion and Joint Gain Maximization, that can result in the more general Prosocial SVO. This is a novel type of priming effect, and the avenues for follow up research, as well as consequences of implementation are discussed.