Rationale Trust is a key component of social interactions. In order to assess the trustworthiness of others, people rely on both information learned from previous encounters, as well as on implicit biases associated with specific facial features. Objective Here, we investigated the role of catecholamine (dopamine and noradrenaline) transmission on trust decisions as a function of both experienced behavior and facial features. Methods To increase catecholamine levels, methylphenidate (MPH, i.e., Ritalin®, 20 mg) was administered to participants (N = 24) prior to their playing a well-studied economic task, namely the Trust Game (Berg et al. 1995). We measured the amount of money invested with a variety of game partners. Across game partners, we manipulated two aspects of trust: the facial trust level (high facial trust, low facial trust, and non-social) and the likelihood of reciprocation (high, low). Results Results demonstrated no main effect of MPH on investments, but rather a selective lowering of investments under MPH as compared with placebo with the game partners who were low on facial trustworthiness and were low reciprocators. Conclusion These results provide evidence that MPH administration impacts social trust decision-making, but does so in a context-specific manner.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Methylphenidate . Ritalin . Trust Game . Trust . Social learning . Decision-making . Catecholamines
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-5165-z, hdl.handle.net/1765/118899
Journal Psychopharmacology
Citation
Ratala, C.E., Fallon, S.J., van der Schaaf, M.E., ter Huurne, N., Cools, R, & Sanfey, A.G. (2019). Catecholaminergic modulation of trust decisions. Psychopharmacology, 236(6), 1807–1816. doi:10.1007/s00213-019-5165-z