Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Our own status affects the way our brains respond to others

Date:
April 28, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Our own social status influences the way our brains respond to others of higher or lower rank, according to a new study. People of higher subjective socioeconomic status show greater brain activity in response to other high-ranked individuals, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals.

Our own social status influences the way our brains respond to others of higher or lower rank, according to a new study reported online on April 28 in Current Biology. People of higher subjective socioeconomic status show greater brain activity in response to other high-ranked individuals, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals.

These differences register in a key component of the brain's value system, a region known as the ventral striatum.

"The way we interact with and behave around other people is often determined by their social status relative to our own, and therefore information regarding social status is very valuable to us," said Caroline Zink of the National Institute of Mental Health. "Interestingly, the value we assign to information about someone's particular status seems to depend on our own status."

The findings in humans are largely consistent with earlier observations in monkeys. Researchers had shown that monkeys direct their attention to others of higher or lower status depending on their own position in the troop.

Zink's team wanted to know whether this principle holds in humans. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity in the ventral striatum while research participants of varying social status were shown information about someone of relatively higher status and information about someone of relatively lower status. Those studies showed that the brain's response to status cues varied depending on an individual's own subjective status.

"The value that we place on particular status-related information -- evident by the extent our brain's value centers are activated -- is not the same for everyone and is influenced, at least in part, by our own subjective socioeconomic status," Zink said.

The findings surely have important implications for our social behavior and social lives, she added. After all, humans, like all social animals, determine appropriate actions toward others based on an assessment of their social status.

Zink said that socioeconomic status isn't based solely on money but can also include factors such as accomplishments and habits. Socioeconomic status is also just one hierarchical system among many that humans belong to and that can influence our everyday interactions.

And of course, our socioeconomic status isn't fixed; it shifts over time, for better or for worse. Exactly how the brain will respond to such changes is an intriguing question for future study.

"As humans, we have the capacity to assess our surroundings and context to determine appropriate feelings and behavior," Zink said. "We, and our brain's activity, are not static and can adjust depending on the circumstances. As one's status changes, I would expect that the value we place on status-related information from others and corresponding brain activity in the ventral striatum would also change."


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. Martina Ly, M. Ryan Haynes, Joseph W. Barter, Daniel R. Weinberger, Caroline F. Zink. Subjective Socioeconomic Status Predicts Human Ventral Striatal Responses to Social Status Information. Current Science, 28 April 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.050

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Our own status affects the way our brains respond to others." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123936.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, April 28). Our own status affects the way our brains respond to others. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123936.htm
Cell Press. "Our own status affects the way our brains respond to others." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123936.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. 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:
from the past week

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