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

Anna Shestakova

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

Vadim Nikulin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Anna Shpektor

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Vasily Klucharev

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

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 ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Anna Shestakova

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

Moscow
Russia

Vadim Nikulin

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Anna Shpektor

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( 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 ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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