Ueshima, A., Mercier, H, & Kameda, T. (2021).

Ueshima, A. (上島淳史), Mercier, H, & Kameda, T. (亀田達也) (2021).
Social deliberation systematically shifts resource allocation decisions by focusing on the fate of the least well-off.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 92, 104067.

How much inequality should be tolerated? How should the poorest be treated? Though sometimes conflated, concerns about inequality and the fate of the poorest involve different allocation principles with different sociopolitical implications. We tested whether deliberation—the core of democracy—influences reasoning about distributive principles. 322 participants faced allocation decisions for others between egalitarian (low variance in allocation), utilitarian (high total amount), and maximin (maximizing the welfare of the poorest) options. After their initial decisions, participants either reflected upon similar decisions solely or discussed them in pairs before facing the same choices again individually. Social, but not solitary, deliberation led to more maximin and fewer egalitarian choices, and this change lasted at least 5 months after the experiment. Conversation analyses of approximately 7500 utterances suggest that some participants initially made egalitarian choices heuristically, when in fact they mostly cared about the poorest, and dialogue promoted more internally coherent maximin preferences.