People socialized in different cultures differ in their thinking styles. Eastern-culture people view objects more holistically by taking context into account, whereas Western-culture people view objects more analytically by focusing on them at the expense of context. Here we studied whether participants, who have different thinking styles but live within the same culture, exhibit differential brain activity when viewing a drama movie. A total of 26 Finnish participants, who were divided into holistic and analytical thinkers based on self-report questionnaire scores, watched a shortened drama movie during functional magnetic resonance imaging.We compared intersubject correlation (ISC) of brain hemodynamic activity of holistic vs analytical participants across the movie viewings. Holistic thinkers showed significant ISC in more extensive cortical areas than analytical thinkers, suggesting that they perceived the movie in a more similar fashion. Significantly higher ISC was observed in holistic thinkers in occipital, prefrontal and temporal cortices. In analytical thinkers, significant ISC was observed in right-hemisphere fusiform gyrus, temporoparietal junction and frontal cortex. Since these results were obtained in participants with similar cultural background, they are less prone to confounds by other possible cultural differences. Overall, our results show how brain activity in holistic vs analytical participants differs when viewing the same drama movie.
Human behaviour is affected by various forms of persuasion. The general persuasive effect of high expertise of the communicator, often referred to as ’expert power’, is well documented. We found that a single exposure to a combination of an expert and an object leads to a long-lasting positive effect on memory for and attitude towards the object. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we probed the neural processes predicting these behavioural effects. Expert context was associated with distributed left-lateralized brain activity in prefrontal and temporal cortices related to active semantic elaboration. Furthermore, experts enhanced subsequent memory effects in the medial temporal lobe (i.e. in hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus) involved in memory formation. Experts also affected subsequent attitude effects in the caudate nucleus involved in trustful behaviour, reward processing and learning. These results may suggest that the persuasive effect of experts is mediated by modulation of caudate activity resulting in a re-evaluation of the object in terms of its perceived value. Results extend our view of the functional role of the dorsal striatum in social interaction and enable us to make the first steps toward a neuroscientific model of persuasion.
Humans often change their beliefs or behavior due to the behavior or opinions of others. This study explored, with the use of human event-related potentials (ERPs), whether social conformity is based on a general performance-monitoring mechanism. We tested the hypothesis that conflicts with a normative group opinion evoke a feedback-related negativity (FRN) often associated with performance monitoring and subsequent adjustment of behavior. The experimental results show that individual judgments of facial attractiveness were adjusted in line with a normative group opinion. A mismatch between individual and group opinions triggered a frontocentral negative deflection with the maximum at 200 ms, similar to FRN. Overall, a conflict with a normative group opinion triggered a cascade of neuronal responses: from an earlier FRN response reflecting a conflict with the normative opinion to a later ERP component (peaking at 380 ms) reflecting a conforming behavioral adjustment. These results add to the growing literature on neuronal mechanisms of social influence by disentangling the conflict-monitoring signal in response to the perceived violation of social norms and the neural signal of a conforming behavioral adjustment.
Informational cascades can occur when rationally acting individuals decide independently of their private information and follow the decisions of preceding decision-makers. In the process of updating beliefs, differences in the weighting of private and publicly available social information may modulate the probability that a cascade starts in a decisive way. By using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined neural activity while participants updated their beliefs based on the decisions of two fictitious stock market traders and their own private information, which led to a final decision of buying one of two stocks. Computational modeling of the behavioral data showed that a majority of participants overweighted private information. Overweighting was negatively correlated with the probability of starting an informational cascade in trials especially prone to conformity. Belief updating by private information was related to activity in the inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex; the more a participant overweighted private information, the higher the activity in the inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula and the lower in the parietal-temporal cortex. This study explores the neural correlates of overweighting of private information, which underlies the tendency to start an informational cascade.
Putting oneself into the shoes of others is an important aspect of social cognition. We measured brain hemodynamic activity and eye-gaze patterns while participants were viewing a shortened version of the movie ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ from two perspectives: that of a potential organ donor, who violates moral norms by refusing to donate her kidney, and that of a potential organ recipient, who suffers in pain. Inter-subject correlation (ISC) of brain activity was significantly higher during the potential organ donor’s perspective in dorsolateral and inferior prefrontal, lateral and inferior occipital, and inferior–anterior temporal areas. In the reverse contrast, stronger ISC was observed in superior temporal, posterior frontal and anterior parietal areas. Eye-gaze analysis showed higher proportion of fixations on the potential organ recipient during both perspectives. Taken together, these results suggest that during social perspective-taking different brain areas can be flexibly recruited depending on the nature of the perspective that is taken.