The neurochemistry of fairness: Clarifying the link between serotonin and prosocial behavior

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

72 Scopus citations


Decades of research have linked the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) to prosocial behavior. However, the precise mechanisms through which 5-HT influences social interactions remain unclear. A neuroeconomics approach may help clarify these mechanisms. In a recent study, lowering 5-HT levels in healthy volunteers enhanced their reactions to unfair treatment in the ultimatum game. Other studies investigating the neural mechanisms of social decision making have implicated brain regions that are modulated by 5-HT. Here, I review the evidence for the role of 5-HT in modulating social decision making and discuss the implications for understanding how prosocial behavior varies between individuals and across social contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationValues, Empathy, and Fairness across Social Barriers
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781573317603
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Aggression
  • Fairness
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Serotonin


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