Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Mechanisms Of Social Conformity

Date:
January 16, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New research reveals the brain activity that underlies our tendency to "follow the crowd." The study provides intriguing insight into how human behavior can be guided by the perceived behavior of other individuals.

New research reveals the brain activity that underlies our tendency to "follow the crowd." The study, published by Cell Press in the January 15th issue of the journal Neuron, provides intriguing insight into how human behavior can be guided by the perceived behavior of other individuals.

Related Articles


Many studies have demonstrated the profound effect of group opinion on individual judgments, and there is no doubt that we look to the behavior and judgment of others for information about what will be considered expected and acceptable behavior.

"We often change our decisions and judgments to conform with normative group behavior," says lead study author Dr. Vasily Klucharev from the F.C. Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging in The Netherlands. "However, the neural mechanisms of social conformity remain unclear."

Dr. Klucharev and colleagues hypothesized that social conformity might be based on reinforcement learning and that a conflict with group opinion could trigger a "prediction error" signal. A prediction error, first identified in reinforcement learning models, is a difference between expected and obtained outcomes that is thought to signal the need for a behavioral adjustment.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activity in subjects whose initial judgments of facial attractiveness were open to influence by group opinion. Specifically, they examined the rostral cingulate zone (RCZ) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The RCZ is thought to play a role in monitoring behavioral outcomes, and the NAc has been implicated in the anticipation and processing of rewards as well as social learning.

The study authors found that a conflict with the group opinion triggered a long-term conforming adjustment of an individual's own rating and that conflict with the group elicited a neuronal response in the RCZ and NAc similar to a prediction error signal. Further, the magnitude of the individual conflict-related signal in the NAc correlated with differences in conforming behavior across subjects.

"The present study explains why we often automatically adjust our opinion in line with the majority opinion," says Dr. Klucharev. "Our results also show that social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake—that of being too different from others."

The researcher is Vasily Klucharev, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Kaisa Hytonen, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Mark Rijpkema, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Ale Smidts, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and Guillen Fernandez, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Brain Mechanisms Of Social Conformity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114124109.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, January 16). Brain Mechanisms Of Social Conformity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114124109.htm
Cell Press. "Brain Mechanisms Of Social Conformity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114124109.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins