Scientists have figured out how brain activity differs with different types of social influence

(ORDO NEWS) — The authors of the new work compared the brain activity of people exposed to different types of social influences.

They studied communication, in which a person changes his mind upon receiving additional information, and normative influence, under which people tend to conform to the opinion of society.

Changing our minds after receiving additional information from another person (or group) is an example of informational social impact. On the other hand, we can make a decision based not on our own beliefs, but on the basis of a desire to be accepted by society – this is an example of normative social influence.

Until now, scientists have not compared brain activity in two such situations. Now researchers from the University of Freiburg (Germany) have described what happens in our brains with different types of social exposure.

The experiments used a computer game. The subjects were asked to remember the location of the dot on the screen, and then answer where it was, and assess the confidence in their own answer.

After that, the participants could change their mind by looking at the response of a computer or another person they met before the experiment. In fact, all the answers were generated by the computer. The subjects’ brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

People were more likely to change their minds when they were not sure of their answer, and the change in opinion did not depend on whether they considered the partner to be a computer or a person.

Information impact was reflected in the activity of the dorsal part of the anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). This region of the brain is involved in cognitive functions such as reward expectation, decision making, empathy, impulse control, and emotion.

In addition, participants were more likely to refuse to answer when they received a message that their partner was also going to change his mind. This only occurred when the subjects considered the partner to be human and was also associated with dACC activity.

The normative influence was also manifested in the appearance of stronger functional connections of dACC with other areas of the brain responsible for social interaction, such as the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the temporoparietal ganglion.

DACC tracks the importance of other people’s opinions in social interaction. This area of ​​the brain equally processes the advice of a person and a computer under informational influence. However, in matters of normative interaction, he does not attach importance to the opinion of artificial intelligence.

Mutual conformity – human behavior associated with the desire for social recognition. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms behind it is important for studies of normative influence in the relationship between machines with artificial intelligence.


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