Neural Mechanisms of the Postdecisional Spreading-of-Alternatives Effect: EEG Study

20 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015

See all articles by Marco Colosio

Marco Colosio

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Anna Shestakova

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) - Centre for Cognition and Decision Making

Vadim Nikulin

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Anna Shpektor

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Vasily Klucharev

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); Radboud University Nijmegen; National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Date Written: December 8, 2015

Abstract

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that our preferences are modulated by the mere act of choosing. According to the cognitive dissonance theory, a choice between two similarly valued alternatives creates a psychological tension (cognitive dissonance) that is reduced by a post-decisional re-evaluation of the alternatives – the post-decisional spreading-of-alternatives effect – the chosen item being later evaluated more positively and the rejected item more negatively. Previous neuroimaging studies indicated a central role of the medial prefrontal cortex in cognitive dissonance. In this work, we used electroencephalography to investigate a similarity of neural mechanisms underlying postdecisional preference change and general performance monitoring mechanisms. Our study demonstrates that decisions, associated with stronger cognitive dissonance, trigger a stronger negative fronto-central evoked response similar to the error-related negativity (ERN). Furthermore, the amplitude of ERN correlated with the post-decisional spreading-of-alternatives effect. ERN has been previously associated with incorrect responses and a general performance monitoring mechanism. Thus, our results suggest that cognitive dissonance can be reflected in the activity of the medial prefrontal cortex as a part of the general performance-monitoring circuitry.

Keywords: cognitive dissonance, ERN, brain, spread of alternatives, Eriksen Flanker task

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Colosio, Marco and Shestakova, Anna and Nikulin, Vadim and Shpektor, Anna and Klucharev, Vasily, Neural Mechanisms of the Postdecisional Spreading-of-Alternatives Effect: EEG Study (December 8, 2015). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 50/PSY/2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700656 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2700656

Marco Colosio (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Anna Shestakova

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) - Centre for Cognition and Decision Making ( email )

Moscow
Russia

Vadim Nikulin

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Anna Shpektor

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Vasily Klucharev

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

Rotterdam
Netherlands

Radboud University Nijmegen ( email )

Postbus 9108
Nijmegen, 6500 HK
Netherlands

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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