Similar Neural Responses Predict Friendship

66 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2016 Last revised: 20 Dec 2017

See all articles by Carolyn Parkinson

Carolyn Parkinson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business; Dartmouth College

Thalia Wheatley

Dartmouth College

Date Written: December 19, 2017

Abstract

Human social networks are overwhelmingly homophilous: Individuals tend to befriend others who are similar to them in terms of a range of physical attributes (e.g., age, gender). Do similarities among friends reflect deeper similarities in how we perceive, interpret, and respond to the world? To test whether friendship, and more generally, social network proximity, is associated with increased similarity of real-time mental responding, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan subjects’ brains during free-viewing of naturalistic movies. Here we show evidence for neural homophily: Neural responses when viewing audiovisual movies are exceptionally similar among friends, and that similarity decreases with increasing distance in a real-world social network. These results suggest that we are exceptionally similar to our friends in how we perceive and respond to the world around us, with implications for interpersonal influence and attraction.

Keywords: social networks, neuroscience, homophily

Suggested Citation

Parkinson, Carolyn and Kleinbaum, Adam M. and Wheatley, Thalia, Similar Neural Responses Predict Friendship (December 19, 2017). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2881692. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2881692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2881692

Carolyn Parkinson (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bit.ly/kleinbaum

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Thalia Wheatley

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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