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A collaborator's reputation can bias decisions and anxiety under uncertainty

Qi, Song and Footer, Owen and Camerer, Colin and Mobbs, Dean (2018) A collaborator's reputation can bias decisions and anxiety under uncertainty. Journal of Neuroscience, 38 (9). pp. 2262-2269. ISSN 0270-6474. PMCID PMC5830514. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2337-17.2018.

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Informational social influence theory posits that under conditions of uncertainty, we are inclined to look to others for advice. This leaves us remarkably vulnerable to being influenced by other's opinions or advice. Rational agents, however, do not blindly seek and act on arbitrary information, but often consider the quality of its source before committing to a course of action. Here, we ask the question of whether a collaborator's reputation can increase their social influence and, in turn bias perception and anxiety under changing levels of uncertainty. Human male and female participants were asked to provide estimations of dot direction using the random dot motion (RDM) perceptual discrimination task and paired with transient collaborators of high or low reputation whom provided their own estimations. The RDM varied in degrees of uncertainty and joint performance accuracy was linked to risk of an electric shock. Despite providing identical information, we show that collaborating with a high reputation compared to a low reputation partner, led to significantly more conformity during the RDM task for uncertain perceptual decisions. Consequently, high reputation partners decreased the subjects' anxiety during the anticipatory shock periods. fMRI data showed that parametric changes in conformity resulted in increased activity in the ventromedial PFC, while dissent was associated with increased in activity the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). Furthermore, the dACC and insula, regions involved in anticipatory pain were significantly more active when collaborating with a low reputation partner. These results suggest that information about reputation can influence both cognitive and affective processes and in turn alter the neural circuits that underlie decision-making and emotion.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Qi, Song0000-0002-5886-849X
Camerer, Colin0000-0003-4049-1871
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Additional Information:© 2018 The Authors. For the first six months after publication SfN’s license will be exclusive. Beginning six months after publication the Work will be made freely available to the public on SfN’s website to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license ( Received Aug. 17, 2017; revised Dec. 4, 2017; accepted Jan. 13, 2018. Author contributions: D.M. and O.F. designed research; O.F. performed research; S.Q. and O.F. analyzed data; D.M., C.C., S.Q., and O.F. wrote the paper. This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grant 2P50MH094258 (D.M. and C.F.C.), and startup funds from Columbia University. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Columbia UniversityUNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:anxiety; conformity; decision; fMRI; pain; reputation
Issue or Number:9
PubMed Central ID:PMC5830514
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180205-133528920
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Official Citation:A Collaborator's Reputation Can Bias Decisions and Anxiety under Uncertainty Song Qi, Owen Footer, Colin F. Camerer, Dean Mobbs Journal of Neuroscience 28 February 2018, 38 (9) 2262-2269; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2337-17.2018
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84677
Deposited On:06 Feb 2018 15:35
Last Modified:15 Mar 2022 20:55

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