The Relationship between Agency, Communion, and Neural Processes Associated with Conforming to Social Influence

25 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2023

See all articles by Arina Tveleneva

Arina Tveleneva

University of Washington

Christin Scholz

University of Amsterdam

Emily B. Falk

University of Pennsylvania

Carolyn Yoon

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Matthew D. Lieberman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Psychology

Nicole Cooper

University of Pennsylvania

Matthew Brook O’Donnell

University of Pennsylvania

Christopher N. Cascio

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Abstract

Social influence is ubiquitous in our daily lives, influencing our opinions, beliefs, and behaviors. Individual differences may determine who is most likely to conform to the opinions of others. More specifically, individual differences in interdependent and independent self-construal determine an individuals sensitivity to and focus on their social surroundings. Relatedly, society traditionally ascribes and prescribes different levels of agency (independence) and communion (interdependence) to men and women. Here, we examined how individual differences in self-construal, and their congruence with gender expectations, influence how people process and respond to social feedback. Results from independent behavioral and neuroimaging samples show that a stronger interdependent self-construal was associated with increased likelihood of conformity, whereas an independent self-construal was not. Further, neuroimaging data suggests that the relationship between brain activity and conformity is moderated by the congruence of gender stereotypes and self-construal. Specifically, stereotypically congruent women (with stronger interdependence) and men (with stronger independence) showed increased activity in mentalizing regions (and value regions in men) when conforming. Stereotypically incongruent women (with stronger independence) and men (with stronger interdependence) showed decreased mentalizing activity when conforming. These results shed light on underlying (neuro)psychological mechanisms that are associated with conformity among different groups.

Keywords: self-construal, gender, conformity, fMRI, and social influence

Suggested Citation

Tveleneva, Arina and Scholz, Christin and Falk, Emily B. and Yoon, Carolyn and Lieberman, Matthew D. and Cooper, Nicole and O’Donnell, Matthew Brook and Cascio, Christopher N., The Relationship between Agency, Communion, and Neural Processes Associated with Conforming to Social Influence. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4373047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4373047

Arina Tveleneva

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Christin Scholz

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Emily B. Falk

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Carolyn Yoon

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

Matthew D. Lieberman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Psychology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563
United States

Nicole Cooper

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Matthew Brook O’Donnell

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Christopher N. Cascio (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

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