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Humans Use Forward Thinking to Exert Social Control

35 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2019 Sneak Peek Status: Review Complete

See all articles by Soojung Na

Soojung Na

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Dongil Chung

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) - Department of Human Factors Engineering

Jennifer Jung

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Andreas Hula

Austrian Institute of Technology

Vincenzo G. Fiore

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Nash Department of Neuroscience

Peter Dayan

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Xiaosi Gu

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Nash Department of Neuroscience; Mount Sinai Health System - Department of Psychiatry; James J. Peter Veterans Affairs Medical Center

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Abstract

Social control, the ability to exert influence over others, is critical in interpersonal interactions yet uninvestigated. Here, we used functional neuroimaging and a social exchange paradigm in which people’s current choices either did, or did not, influence their partners’ proposals in the future. Computational modeling revealed that participants used forward thinking and calculated the downstream effects of their current actions regardless of the controllability of the social environment. Furthermore, greater levels of estimated control correlated with better performance in controllable interactions and less illusory beliefs about control in uncontrollable interactions. Neural instantiation of trial-by-trial values of social controllability were tracked in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), striatum, and insula for controllable interactions, but only in vmPFC for uncontrollable interactions. These findings demonstrate that humans use forward thinking, a strategy similar to model-based planning, to guide social choices; and that subjective beliefs about social controllability might not be grounded in reality.

Keywords: Social control, forward thinking, computational modeling, fMRI, vmPFC, insula, striatum

Suggested Citation

Na, Soojung and Chung, Dongil and Jung, Jennifer and Hula, Andreas and Fiore, Vincenzo G. and Dayan, Peter and Gu, Xiaosi, Humans Use Forward Thinking to Exert Social Control (August 27, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3443690 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3443690
This is a paper under consideration at Cell Press and has not been peer-reviewed.

Soojung Na

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Dongil Chung

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) - Department of Human Factors Engineering ( email )

Ulsan
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Jennifer Jung

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

800 W. Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
United States

Andreas Hula

Austrian Institute of Technology

Donau-City-Strasse 1
Vienna, 1220
Austria

Vincenzo G. Fiore

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Nash Department of Neuroscience ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Peter Dayan

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Tübingen
Germany

Xiaosi Gu (Contact Author)

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Nash Department of Neuroscience ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Mount Sinai Health System - Department of Psychiatry ( email )

New York, NY 10025
United States

James J. Peter Veterans Affairs Medical Center ( email )

Bronx, NY
United States

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