People with Metabolic Syndrome Disorders Give Lower Offers in Ultimatum Game


Background: The origins of the metabolic syndrome disorders are being increasingly recognized as neuro-behavioural rather than dietary or metabolic. The neuro-behavioural origins hypothesis implies that there should be detectable behavioural differences between people with and without metabolic syndrome disorders. We test here whether the economic behaviour of individuals with any of the metabolic syndrome disorders differs from that of healthy age matched controls using the ultimatum bargaining game. Methods: The ultimatum game was played by 59 persons with at least one of four metabolic syndrome disorders namely type 2 diabetes (T2D), hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disease (MS group) and the results were compared to a healthy age matched control consisting of 71 persons. Results: The MS group gave significantly lower ultimatum game offers than the control group. Testing for individual disorders, type 2 diabetics gave significantly lower offers than the non-diabetic group. In binary logistic regression, ultimatum game offer was a better predictor of MS and T2D than Body Mass Index (BMI). Conclusions: There are detectable behavioural differences between individuals with metabolic syndrome disorders as compared to age matched healthy controls. The results are compatible with the neurobehavioral origins hypothesis and demonstrate further the association between metabolic states and social and economic behaviour.

Share and Cite:

Joshi, A. , Kondekar, S. , Belsare, P. , Ghaskadbi, S. , Watve, M. & Jog, M. (2010). People with Metabolic Syndrome Disorders Give Lower Offers in Ultimatum Game. Psychology, 1, 128-133. doi: 10.4236/psych.2010.12017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] O. Bosello and M. Zamboni, “Visceral Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome,” Obesity Reviews, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2000, pp. 47-56.
[2] S. M. Grundy, “Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Cardiovascular Disease,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 89, No. 6, 2004, pp. 2595- 2600.
[3] D. E. Moller and K. D. Kaufman, “Metabolic Syndrome: A Clinical and Molecular Perspective,” Annual Review of Medicine, Vol. 56, February 2005, pp. 45-62.
[4] J. V. Neel, “Diabetes Mellitus: A Thrifty Genotype Rendered Detrimental by Progress?” American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 14, No. 4, 1962, pp. 353-362.
[5] C. N. Hales and D. J. P. Barker, “Type 2 (Non-Insulin-Dependent) Diabetes Mellitus: The Thrifty Phenotype Hypothesis,” Diabetologia, Vol. 35, No. 7, 1992, pp. 595- 601.
[6] M. G. Watve and C. S. Yajnik, “The Evolutionary Origins of Insulin Resistance: A Behavioral Switch Hypothesis,” BMC Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 7, April 2007, p. 61.
[7] J. R. Speakman, “Thrifty Genes for Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome-Time to Call off the Search?” Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, May 2006, pp. 7-11.
[8] J. R. Speakman, “A Non-Adaptive Scenario Explaining the Genetic Predisposition to Obesity: The ‘Predation Release’ Hypothesis,” Cell Metabolism, Vol. 6, No. 1, July 2007, pp. 5-12.
[9] P. V. Belsare, “Reconciliation of Thriftiness and Behavioural Switch,” Comments on BMC Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 7, 2007, p. 61.
[10] A. Rashidi, T. B. L. Kirkwood and D. P. Shanley, “Metabolic Evolution Suggests an Explanation for the Weakness of Antioxidant Defenses in Beta-Cells,” Mecha- nisms of Ageing and Development, Vol. 130, No. 4, January 2009, pp. 216-221.
[11] P. V. Belsare, M. G. Watve, S. S. Ghaskadbi, D. S. Bhat, C. S. Yajnik and M. M. Jog, “Metabolic Syndrome: Aggression Control Mechanisms Gone out of Control,” Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 74, No. 3, March 2010, pp. 578-589.
[12] R. H. Thaler, “Anomalies: The Ultimatum Game,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 2, No. 4, Fall 1988, pp. 195-206.
[13] E. Emanuele, N. Brondino, M. Bertona, S. Re and D. Geroldi, “Relationship between Platelet Serotonin Content and Rejections of Unfair Offers in the Ultimatum Game,” Neuroscience Letters, Vol. 437, No. 2, 2008, pp. 158-161.
[14] M. J. Crockett, L. Clark, G. Tabibnia, M. D. Lieberman and T. W. Robbins, “Serotonin Modulates Behavioral Reactions to Unfairness,” Science, Vol. 320, No. 5884, June 2008, p. 1739.
[15] E. Emanuele, M. Bertona, S. Re and N. Brondino, “Human Economic and Financial Behavior: The Serotonergic Hypothesis,” Bioscience Hypotheses, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009, pp. 109-110.
[16] P. J. Zak, R. Kurzban, S. Ahmadi, R. S. Swerdloff, J. Park, L. Efremidze, K. Redwine, K. Morgan and W. Matzner, “Testosterone Administration Decreases Generosity in the Ultimatum Game,” PLoS ONE, Vol. 4, No. 12, December 2009, p. e8330.
[17] T. C. Burnham, “High-Testosterone Men Reject Low Ultimatum Game Offers,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vol. 274, No. 1623, 2007, pp. 2327-2330.
[18] E. T. Larson and C. H. Summers, “Serotonin Reverses Dominant Social Status,” Behavioural Brain Research, Vol. 121, No. 1-2, June 2001, pp. 95-102.
[19] D. H. Edwards and E. A. Kravitzt, “Serotonin, Social Status and Aggression,” Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Vol. 7, No. 6, 1997, pp. 812-819.
[20] E. Agardh, A. Ahlbom, T. Andersson, et al., “Work Stress and Low Sense of Coherence is Associated with Type 2 Diabetes in Middle-Aged Swedish Women,” Diabetes Care, Vol. 26, No. 3, March 2003, pp. 719-724.
[21] R. M. Sapolsky, “The Influence of Social Hierarchy on Primate Health,” Science, Vol. 308, No. 5722, April 2005, pp. 648-652.
[22] S. Luo, J. Luo and A. H. Cincotta, “Chronic Ventromedial Hypothalamic Infusion of Norepinephrine and Serotonin Promotes Insulin Resistance and Glucose Intolerance,” Neuroendocrinology, Vol. 70, No. 6, December 1999, pp. 460-5.
[23] S. Luo, A. H. Meier and A. H. Cincotta, “Bromocriptine Reduces Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Extracellular Monoamine Metabolite Levels in Ventromedial Hypothalamus of Syrian Hamsters,” Neuroendocrinology, Vol. 68, No. 1, 1998, pp. 1-10.
[24] A. Holmang and P. Bjorntorp, “The Effects of Testosterone on Insulin Sensitivity in Male Rats,” Acta physiologica Scandinavica, Vol. 146, No. 4, December 1992, pp. 505-510.
[25] R. F. Spark, “Testosterone, Diabetes Mellitus, and the Metabolic Syndrome,” Current Urology Reports, Vol. 8, No. 6, 2007, pp. 467-471.
[26] M. Muller, D. E. Grobbee, I. den Tonkelaar, S. W. J. Lamberts and Y. T. van der Schouw, “Endogenous Sex Hormones and Metabolic Syndrome in Aging Men,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 90, No. 5, 2005, pp. 2618-2623.
[27] C. S. Yajnik, “Obesity Epidemic in India: Intrauterine Origins?” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Vol. 63, No. 3, August 2004, pp. 387-96.
[28] S. Pecioska, M. C. Zillikens, P. Henneman, et al., “Association between Type 2 Diabetes Loci and Measures of Fatness,” PLoS ONE, Vol. 5, No. 1, January 2010, p. e8541.
[29] D. Su, “Body Mass Index and Old Age Survival: A Comparative Study between the Union Army Records and the NHANES-I Epidemiological Follow-Up Sample,” American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2005, pp. 341-354.
[30] M. Mankar, R. S. Joshi, P. V. Belsare, M. M. Jog and M. G. Watve, “Obesity as a Perceived Social Signal,” PLoS ONE, Vol. 3, No. 9, September 2008, p. e3187.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.