Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Perceived intentions influence brain response

Date:
August 11, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
People generally like to see generous people rewarded and selfish people punished. Now, new research reveals a critical link between how we perceive another's intentions and our evaluation of their behavior. The study makes some intriguing observations about how a description of the impact of an individual's actions on a group can alter the neural representation of their observed behavior.

People generally like to see generous people rewarded and selfish people punished. Now, new research reveals a critical link between how we perceive another's intentions and our evaluation of their behavior. The study, published in the August 12 issue of the journal Neuron, makes some intriguing observations about how a description of the impact of an individual's actions on a group can alter the neural representation of their observed behavior.

Related Articles


When people judge another's actions, they often consider both the other person's outcome and their intentions. For example, in deciding whether a car salesperson's price is fair, people take into account both the price itself and their judgment of how honest the salesperson seems. To investigate how the brain combines these two kinds of information, researchers at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin, Ireland, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine volunteers while they made judgments about others.

Participants observed players in a group economic game in which contributing benefitted the group and not contributing benefitted the individual players. Importantly, some participants had a "Donation" game with instructions about charity for the group, while the other participants had the same game described as a "Savings" game with instructions referring to risky investing and the stock market.

"We designed the framing conditions to engage or disengage participants' emotional response to the game, which meant that we could change how participants judged others without changing what they actually did," explains lead study author Dr. Jeffrey C. Cooper.

The researchers found that participants in the "Donation" game liked the generous players and disliked selfish ones, but for participants in the "Savings" game, generosity did not affect liking. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), which has been associated with responding to personal rewards, showed a similar pattern. In the "Donation" game, it activated when observing generous play and deactivated when observing selfish play, but in the "Savings" game, it did not respond.

"Generous and selfish players made the same contributions in both conditions, but people only liked them differently when we described their actions in terms of consequences for the group, and only then did the VMPFC respond to those actions," says Dr. Cooper.

The findings suggest that how the brain represents others' actions depends crucially on whether we perceive their intentions as helpful or harmful and that those intentions can be changed by a brief description. "These findings show for the first time that just seeing someone's action described as kind or foolish can change an important neural representation of how rewarding that action is to us," concludes Dr. Cooper.

The researchers include Jeffrey C. Cooper, Tamar A. Kreps, Taylor Wiebe, Tristana Pirkl, and Brian Knutson, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeffrey C. Cooper, Tamar A. Kreps, Taylor Wiebe, Tristana Pirkl, Brian Knutson. When Giving Is Good: Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Activation for Others' Intentions. Neuron, Volume 67, Issue 3, 511-521, 12 August 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.06.030

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Perceived intentions influence brain response." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100811125937.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, August 11). Perceived intentions influence brain response. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100811125937.htm
Cell Press. "Perceived intentions influence brain response." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100811125937.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) — China and "one or two" other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and hea Video provided by AP
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

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

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