How do you change your mind?
Are You Changing Your Mind Based on Knowledge or to Adapt?
Researchers led by Ali Mahmoodi of the University of Freiburg in Germany have identified the brain activity that occurs when we are socially influenced to change our minds. The study, published four days ago in the journal PLOS Biology, shows how the brain distinguishes between different types of social adjustment when people change their views.
An example of informational social influence is when a person changes their mind after learning additional information from another person. On the other hand, if the reason for changing an opinion is social acceptance, this is an example of normative social influence. None of the studies conducted on the underlying brain mechanisms to date have made a distinction between these two conditions.
The new study used a computer-based game in which subjects tried to remember the position of a point presented on the screen. Participants were presented with ‘self-confidence scores’ based on their answers. Then, the subjects were given the opportunity to change their guesses after seeing the answer from a computer or a “partner” they had met before the experiment. In reality, all the answers are computer generated. While people were playing the game, their brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
When people had low self-confidence, they were more attuned regardless of whether their partner was human or not. This informational effect was followed by activity in the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). Participants also showed greater conformity when their fit match was reciprocated in their partners. This normative effect occurred only when participants thought their partner was human and was associated with dACC activity. In addition to these; The informational, but not the normative, influence was associated with stronger functional connections to the dACC in other social processing regions of the brain.
Reciprocal conformity behavior is a behavior that demonstrates a desire for social acceptance. Understanding the neural basis of this behavior is crucial when dealing with instances of overfitting. In future studies, the limits of normative compliance towards non-human machines need to be explored.
Adds Mahmoodi: “Humans’ dorsal anterior cingulate cortex tracks how much the other person’s view outweighs in social interaction. This signal in the brain behaves similarly to advice from humans and artificial intelligence in the context of information. But this part of the brain pays no attention to AI in the context of social norms like reciprocation.”