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Published May 8, 2013 | Accepted Version + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Social Manipulation of Preference in the Human Brain


Our preferences are influenced by what other people like, but depend critically on how we feel about those people, a classical psychological effect called "cognitive balance." Here, we manipulated preferences for goods by telling participants the preferences of strongly liked or disliked groups of other people. Participants' preferences converged to those of the liked group, but diverged from the disliked group. Activation of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) tracked the discrepancy between one's own preference and its social ideal and was associated with subsequent preference change (toward the liked and away from the disliked group), even several months later. A follow-up study found overlapping activation in this same region of dmPFC with negative monetary outcomes, but no overlap with nearby activations induced by response conflict. A single social encounter can thus result in long-lasting preference change, a mechanism that recruits dmPFC and that may reflect the aversive nature of cognitive imbalance.

Additional Information

© 2013 Elsevier Inc. Accepted: March 3, 2013. Published: May 8, 2013. We thank John P. O'Doherty and Dan Kennedy for helpful comments on the manuscript, and the staff of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center for their assistance in conducting the fMRI. This work was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellows (K.I.), as well as the National Science Foundation, a Conte Center grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Tamagawa University Global Centers of Excellence grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (R.A.).

Attached Files

Accepted Version - nihms461848.pdf

Supplemental Material - mmc1.pdf


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