ArticlePDF Available

Conformity to the Opinions of Other People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

When people are faced with opinions different from their own, they often revise their own opinions to match those held by other people. This is known as the social-conformity effect. Although the immediate impact of social influence on people's decision making is well established, it is unclear whether this reflects a transient capitulation to public opinion or a more enduring change in privately held views. In an experiment using a facial-attractiveness rating task, we asked participants to rate each face; after providing their rating, they were informed of the rating given by a peer group. They then rerated the same faces after 1, 3, or 7 days or 3 months. Results show that individuals' initial judgments are altered by the differing opinions of other people for no more than 3 days. Our findings suggest that because the social-conformity effect lasts several days, it reflects a short-term change in privately held views rather than a transient public compliance.
Content may be subject to copyright.
http://pss.sagepub.com/
Psychological Science
http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/20/0956797614532104
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614532104
published online 21 May 2014Psychological Science
Yi Huang, Keith M. Kendrick and Rongjun Yu
Conformity to the Opinions of Other People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days
Published by:
http://www.sagepublications.com
On behalf of:
Association for Psychological Science
can be found at:Psychological ScienceAdditional services and information for
http://pss.sagepub.com/cgi/alertsEmail Alerts:
http://pss.sagepub.com/subscriptionsSubscriptions:
http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints:
http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions:
What is This?
- May 21, 2014OnlineFirst Version of Record >>
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Psychological Science
1 –6
© The Author(s) 2014
Reprints and permissions:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614532104
pss.sagepub.com
Research Article
Although people like to think of themselves as indepen-
dent thinkers, there is considerable evidence that per-
sonal judgments can be substantially altered in the face
of conflicting views expressed by other people; this is
known as the social-conformity effect (Asch, 1951;
Campbell-Meiklejohn, Bach, Roepstorff, Dolan, & Frith,
2010; Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004; Festinger, 1954). One
explanation of conformity phenomena is that people use
reward-based reinforcement-learning mechanisms to
update their judgments (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004): If
people follow the social norms, they are often rewarded;
if they do not, they are often punished. A conflict with
social norms can serve as an error signal and guides con-
forming changes in social judgments (Homans, 1950/1992;
Klucharev, Hytonen, Rijpkema, Smidts, & Fernandez,
2009).
Conformity may be present in two forms. In private
acceptance, people view social norms as an important
source of information about the world. Therefore, their
opinions or judgments may genuinely be changed by
social influence. In this case, behavioral changes are long
lasting and persistent, even when social influence is
removed. In public compliance, people may change their
behavior or reported opinions simply to avoid social
rejection while privately continuing to hold their original
attitudes. In such circumstances, behavioral changes are
transient, and there is no long-lasting alteration in opin-
ion (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004). Although a number of
theories suggest that these two types of conformity are
fundamentally distinct (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955; Petty &
Cacioppo, 1986), no empirical study has established
whether social conformity is a transient form of public
compliance to help maintain social cohesion or can result
in an enduring change in private personal opinions.
Several functional MRI (fMRI) studies have demon-
strated that neural processing in perceptual, emotional,
532104PSSXXX10.1177/0956797614532104Huang et al.Long-Term Effect of Conformity
research-article2014
Corresponding Author:
Rongjun Yu, Department of Psychology and Center for Studies of
Psychological Application, School of Psychology, South China Normal
University, Guangzhou, China 510631
E-mail: rongjun.yu@gmail.com
Conformity to the Opinions of Other
People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days
Yi Huang1,2, Keith M. Kendrick3, and Rongjun Yu1,2
1Department of Psychology, School of Psychology, South China Normal University;
2Center for Studies of Psychological Application, School of Psychology, South China
Normal University; and 3Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation, School of Life Science and
Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
Abstract
When people are faced with opinions different from their own, they often revise their own opinions to match those
held by other people. This is known as the social-conformity effect. Although the immediate impact of social influence
on people’s decision making is well established, it is unclear whether this reflects a transient capitulation to public
opinion or a more enduring change in privately held views. In an experiment using a facial-attractiveness rating
task, we asked participants to rate each face; after providing their rating, they were informed of the rating given by a
peer group. They then rerated the same faces after 1, 3, or 7 days or 3 months. Results show that individuals’ initial
judgments are altered by the differing opinions of other people for no more than 3 days. Our findings suggest that
because the social-conformity effect lasts several days, it reflects a short-term change in privately held views rather
than a transient public compliance.
Keywords
social conformity, long-term effect, decision making
Received 4/9/13; Revision accepted 3/25/14
Psychological Science OnlineFirst, published on May 21, 2014 as doi:10.1177/0956797614532104
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
2 Huang et al.
and reward circuitry is altered when participants are
induced to conform to a group opinion. In one study that
used a mental rotation task, researchers demonstrated
that conformity was associated with functional change in
an occipital-parietal perceptual network, which suggests
that the perception of objects is changed during induced
conformity (Berns et al., 2005). Another fMRI study
showed that social influence regarding the value of an
object is associated with the magnitude of ventral stria-
tum response to receiving it, suggesting that the act of
conforming to other people has an effect similar to that
of rewarding stimuli (Campbell-Meiklejohn et al., 2010).
Likewise, another recent study demonstrated that when
individuals conform to the majority opinion, the social
influence is accompanied by modulated engagement of
two brain regions associated with coding subjective
value: the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex
(Zaki, Schirmer, & Mitchell, 2011). The finding that par-
ticipants’ neural representations of the value assigned to
stimuli were affected suggests a private acceptance of
social norms. Overall, however, these studies do not per-
mit a definitive conclusion about whether the conformity
effect reflects a transient compliance with public opinion
or a prolonged alteration in private personal values.
In the present study, we considered a simpler way to
distinguish whether social conformity reflects private
acceptance or public compliance by examining the sta-
bility of behavioral changes in judgments. In other words,
we reasoned that long-lasting judgment changes are
likely to reflect a change in private opinion, whereas
transient judgment changes suggest that public compli-
ance is involved. Although many previous studies have
demonstrated the conformity effect, the overwhelming
majority of them have demonstrated it only shortly (usu-
ally around 30 min) after subjects are informed about
group opinions. The duration of the effect has therefore
not been clearly established. In the present study, we
used a face-attractiveness rating task to examine whether
social and nonsocial information can influence subse-
quent judgments over periods of 3 months (Study 1) and
1, 3, or 7 days (Study 2).
Study 1
Participants
Seventeen Chinese students were recruited from South
China Normal University (n = 17; 5 men, 12 women).
Their mean age was 22 years (SE = 0.53). All participants
were right-handed, had normal or corrected-to-normal
vision, and reported no neurological or psychiatric disor-
ders. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of
the School of Psychology at South China Normal
University. All participants gave written informed con-
sent and were informed of their right to discontinue
participation at any time. Participants received a payment
of 30 yuan (about $5 U.S.)
Experimental paradigm
The stimuli were 280 digital photographs of the faces of
young adult Chinese women posing neutral expressions.
These photographs either were downloaded from free
Internet sources or were pictures taken of university stu-
dents (with consent). All photos were in color and of
similar quality and general appearance. Participants were
informed that they were taking part in a research project
on human perception of facial attractiveness. At the
beginning of each trial, we presented a photograph of a
female face on a computer monitor for 2 s. An 8-point
Likert scale (1 = very unattractive, 8 = very attractive)
was then added to the display, and the participants were
asked to rate the face by moving an arrow with a com-
puter mouse and clicking when the pointer reached the
chosen number (within 4 s). A blue box confirmed the
initial rating for 0.5 s. Finally, for 2 s, a green box indi-
cated what was purported to be the average rating of the
same face given by 200 other students of the same gen-
der as the participant (peer-group rating; Fig. 1).
The ratings given by the alleged peer group were
assigned using the following criteria: In 25% of trials, the
group rating agreed with the participant’s rating (peers-
agree condition); in the remaining 75% of trials, the
group rating was equally likely to be 1, 2, or 3 points
above or below the participant’s rating (peers-higher
and peers-lower conditions, respectively). An adaptive
algorithm kept the overall proportions of more negative
and more positive peer ratings (relative to the partici-
pant’s rating) approximately equal during the experi-
ment. The assignment of faces to conditions was
determined randomly for each participant. After 3
months, participants were called back and asked to com-
plete a second testing session, which they had not been
told about previously. In this rerating session, they rated
the same faces again. Faces were presented in random-
ized order, and participants were not reminded of the
original peer-group ratings.
Data analysis and results
We first analyzed the behavioral data using the methods
described by Klucharev et al. (2009). To control for the
overall changes in ratings across sessions, we computed
mean-corrected ratings of attractiveness for each session
(Sharot, Fleming, Yu, Koster, & Dolan, 2012). The mean-
corrected rating was the distance between a subject’s rat-
ing of a particular face and the average rating for that
participant and rating session. We created a rating change
score per face (i.e., mean-corrected 3-month rerating
minus the mean-corrected initial rating).
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Long-Term Effect of Conformity 3
A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) using con-
flict with the norm (group rating – initial rating: –3, –2,
–1, 0, +1, +2, +3) as a within-subjects factor revealed a
significant effect of conflict with the norm on rating
change scores, F(6, 16) = 31.68, p < .001, showing that
participants changed their ratings of attractiveness, align-
ing themselves with the peer-group ratings given 3
months before (Fig. 2a).
The feedback algorithm we used was constrained
such that a trial could be assigned to the peers-lower
condition only when the participant’s initial rating was 4
or higher (which allowed the supposed group rating to
be at least 3 points lower); likewise, a trial could be
assigned to the peers-higher condition only when the
initial rating was 5 or lower (which allowed the supposed
group rating to be at least 3 points higher). As a conse-
quence, faces initially given a high rating by participants
were assigned to the peers-lower condition dispropor-
tionately often, whereas those initially given a low rating
by participants were assigned to the peers-higher condi-
tion disproportionately often. Thus, the conformity effect
shown in our analysis might be explained in part by
regression to the mean (i.e., if a variable is extreme at
first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average
at second measurement). Paradoxically, if a variable is
extreme at second measurement, it will tend to have
been closer to the average at first measurement (Chernick
& Friis, 2003; Fleminger, 1994). To solve this problem, we
followed the procedure of Zaki et al. (2011) and, for each
participant, selected a subset of faces for which the par-
ticipant’s initial ratings were matched across the peers-
lower and peers-higher conditions (p > .20).
The average numbers of trials for the peers-lower and
peers-higher conditions were 66.41 (SD = 17.74) and 78.0
(SD = 14.5), respectively. In these subsets, which con-
trolled for regression to the mean, the rating change
scores (rerating – initial rating) did not differ significantly
between the peers-lower condition and the peers-higher
condition, t(16) = −0.062, p > .1 (Fig. 2b).
We also conducted a regression analysis with the rat-
ing change between the two sessions as the dependent
variable and the magnitude of conflict with the norm as
the independent variable. Results showed that conflict
with the norm significantly predicted rating change after
3 months, p < .001. To control for the effect of regression
to the mean, we added the initial rating as another inde-
pendent variable in a new regression model. In this new
model, the coefficient for conflict with the norm was not
significant (p = .96). Thus, after controlling for the regres-
sion to the mean, there is no evidence for a very
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
unattractive attractive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
unattractive attractive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
unattractive attractive
Face (2 s) Group and Initial Rating (2 s)Rating Confirmation (0.5 s)Initial Rating (RT < 4 s)
Initial Rating Session
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
unattractive attractive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
unattractive attractive
Rerating Session
Rerating (RT < 4 s)
Face (2 s) Rating Confirmation (0.5 s)
Fig. 1. Illustration of the experimental task. During each trial of the initial rating session, participants viewed a photograph of a female face
and used an 8-point Likert scale to rate the face. A blue box appeared to confirm the initial rating. Finally, a green box indicated the average
rating of the same face purportedly given by 200 other students of the same gender as the participant (i.e., the peer-group rating). In the rerat-
ing session, participants rated the same faces a second time.
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
4 Huang et al.
long-term influence of social conformity on participants’
attractiveness ratings.
Study 2
Participants and experimental
paradigm
To better ascertain whether social conformity could never-
theless persist beyond an initial transient period, we next
decreased the interval between the initial and the rerating
sessions to periods of no more than 1 week. Three differ-
ent groups of student participants were recruited from
South China Normal University. The 1-day group (n = 18;
7 men, 11 women; mean age = 20.72 years, SE = 0.36)
rerated the faces 1 day after the initial rating session. The
3-day group (n = 16; 6 men, 10 women; mean age = 20.81
years, SE = 0.42) rerated the faces 3 days after the initial
rating session. The 7-day group (n = 17; 8 men, 9 women;
mean age = 21.53 years, SE = 0.37) rerated the faces 7 days
after the initial rating session. Participants performed the
same initial rating task as that in Study 1 and they did not
rerate the faces until 1, 3, or 7 days later. We created a rat-
ing change score per face (i.e., mean-corrected 1-, 3-, or
7-day rerating minus the mean-corrected initial rating).
Participants received a payment of 25 yuan (about $4 U.S.)
Results
In this study, we controlled for regression to the mean by
examining ratings of a subset of faces for which the par-
ticipants’ initial ratings were matched in the peers-lower
and peers-higher conditions (ps > .20). The average num-
bers of trials for the peers-lower and peers-higher condi-
tions were 74.83 (SD = 18.88) and 80.39 (SD = 14.98) for
the 1-day group, 65.5 (SD = 15.33) and 85.5 (SD = 13.44)
for the 3-day group, and 67.82 (SD = 14.09) and 89.3
(SD= 13.95) for the 7-day group. For the 1-day group, the
rating change between the peers-lower and peers-higher
conditions was significant, t(17) = −2.56, p = .021; partici-
pants rated faces in the peers-higher condition as more
attractive than faces in the peers-lower condition (Fig.
3a). The rating change was also significant for the 3-day
group, t(15) = −2.35, p = .033 (Fig. 3b), but not for the
7-day group, t(16) = −1.22, p = .238 (Fig. 3c)
Regression analyses showed that when conflict with
the norm was the only independent variable, it signifi-
cantly predicted rating change after 1, 3, and 7 days (ps <
.001). When initial rating was included as another inde-
pendent factor, the effect of conflict with the norm
remained significant for the 1-day group (p < .001) and
the 3-day group (p = .05), but not for the 7-day group,
p= .20. Thus, the social conformity change was main-
tained for up to 3 days, but not for 7 days.
Discussion
Overall, our study shows that social conformity in facial
attractiveness judgments persists for up to 3 days, but
not for longer than 7 days. The effect remained when we
controlled for regression to the mean. Our results sug-
gest that it was not due simply to public compliance,
which would be expected to result only in highly tran-
sient opinion change. Our findings instead support the
–1.2
–1.0
–0.8
–0.6
–0.4
–0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
–3 –2 –1 0+1+2+3
Change in Mean-Corrected Ratings
Conflict With the Norm
No Control of Regression to the Mean
a
–0.25
–0.20
–0.15
–0.10
–0.05
0.00
0.05
0.10
0.15
0.20
0.25
Peers Lower Peers Agree Peers Higher
Change in Mean-Corrected Ratings
Conditions
Control of Regression to the Mean
p = .98
b
Fig. 2. Conformity effect in Study 1. The graph in (a) shows change in mean-corrected ratings after 3 months as a function of difference from
the original ratings (conflict with the norm: 0 = no conflict; +1, +2, +3 = group ratings were 1, 2, or 3 points more positive than initial ratings,
respectively; −1, −2, −3 = group ratings were 1, 2, or 3 points more negative than initial ratings, respectively). The graph in (b) shows change in
mean-corrected ratings after 3 months as a function of condition. Results in (b) were from subsets of faces for which initial ratings were matched
between the peers-higher and peers-lower conditions, to control for regression to the mean. Error bars indicate ±1 SE.
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Long-Term Effect of Conformity 5
conclusion that the social-conformity effect observed
probably reflected a change in privately held views.
However, because the alteration in opinions lasted for
only a few days, it is probable that opinions were quickly
revised as a result of subsequent experience, so that
judgments of facial attractiveness were reset back to the
original norm.
A recent study showed that participants’ preferences
remained socially influenced even after 4 months
(Izuma & Adolphs, 2013). However, that effect may be
explained simply by the tendency for people to make
consistent decisions when asked to rate their prefer-
ences three times. Participants rated their preferences
for T-shirts, saw other people’s preferences for the
same T-shirts, reevaluated the T-shirts on the same day,
and finally rerated the T-shirts after 4 months.
Participants had already changed their attitudes and
explicitly expressed their preference at the second rat-
ing, and therefore maintenance of similar ratings on the
third occasion might have been influenced by the ten-
dency to maintain consistent decisions. Such an effect
would resemble the classic choice-induced preference
effect: After people make a choice, they tend to value
the chosen alternative more and the rejected alternative
less (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959; Izuma et al., 2010;
Sharot et al., 2012). Although participants did not make
any choices per se in Izuma and Adolphs’s study, their
explicit act of rating the shirts a second time may still
have influenced their preference at the third rating. It
has been demonstrated that choice-induced preference
can last about 2 years, despite the fact that participants
no longer remember their previous choices (Sharot et
al., 2012). Thus, it is probable that the long-lasting
effect of social influence reported by Izuma and
Adolphs was at least partially driven by choice-induced
preference change.
Our results also demonstrate the importance of con-
trolling for regression to the mean in this type of social-
conformity paradigm. When we followed the analysis
method used by Klucharev et al. (2009), we found sup-
port for a conclusion that social-conformity effects can
persist for up to 3 months. However when we controlled
for regression to the mean, evidence for a long-term
effect disappeared. This finding has important potential
implications for the design and analysis of future experi-
ments in this field, and it raises concerns that results from
previous studies might also be confounded by regression
to the mean.
It is possible that the relatively short duration of the
social-conformity effect on facial-attractiveness judg-
ments was the result of participants’ daily exposure to
large numbers of faces. A resetting of individual judg-
ment norms could have occurred more quickly than it
would for classes of objects viewed infrequently. Future
experiments using a range of different stimuli are needed
to address the question of whether the social-conformity
effect has a relatively constant duration or is modulated
by factors such as the frequency with which people
encounter particular classes of objects and also the famil-
iarity and valence of these objects.
In conclusion, the present study has provided the first
evidence that social-conformity effects are enduring, at
least over a matter of several days. This suggests that
social conformity in the context of aesthetic judgments is
not simply a result of temporary compliance with public
views; rather, it seems to be a genuine change in pri-
vately held views, although opinions may quickly be
revised in light of subsequent experience.
0.2
–0.1
0.0
0.1
0.2
Peers
Lower
Peers
Agree
Peers
Higher
Change in Mean-Corrected Ratings
Condition
p = .02
–0.2
–0.1
0.0
0.1
0.2
Peers
Lower
Peers
Agree
Peers
Higher
Change in Mean-Corrected Ratings
Condition
p = .03
abc
–0.2
–0.1
0.0
0.1
0.2
Peers
Lower
Peers
Agree
Peers
Higher
Change in Mean-Corrected Ratings
Condition
p = .24
Fig. 3. Conformity effect in Study 2. Change in mean-corrected ratings is shown as a function of condition for the three groups of participants:
(a) those who rerated the faces after 1 day, (b) those who rerated the faces after 3 days, and (c) those who rerated the faces after 7 days. Error bars
indicate ±1 SE.
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
6 Huang et al.
Author Contributions
Y. Huang and K. M. Kendrick contributed equally to this work.
R. Yu developed the study concept. Y. Huang performed the
testing and collected the data. Y. Huang analyzed and inter-
preted the data under the supervision of R. Yu and K. M.
Kendrick. Y. Huang drafted the manuscript, and R. Yu and
K. M. Kendrick provided critical revisions. All authors approved
the final version of the manuscript for submission.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with
respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.
Funding
This study was supported by the National Natural Scientific
Foundation of China (Grant 31371128 to R. Yu) and by the
Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of South
China Normal University (Grant 2013kyjj060 to Y. Huang).
References
Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modifi-
cation and distortion of judgment. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.),
Groups, leadership and men (pp. 177–190). Pittsburgh, PA:
Carnegie Press.
Berns, G. S., Chappelow, J., Zink, C. F., Pagnoni, G., Martin-
Skurski, M. E., & Richards, J. (2005). Neurobiological corre-
lates of social conformity and independence during mental
rotation. Biological Psychiatry, 58, 245–253.
Campbell-Meiklejohn, D. K., Bach, D. R., Roepstorff, A., Dolan,
R. J., & Frith, C. D. (2010). How the opinion of others affects
our valuation of objects. Current Biology, 20, 1165–1170.
Chernick, M. R., & Friis, R. H. (2003). Introductory biostatistics
for the health sciences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Cialdini, R. B., & Goldstein, N. J. (2004). Social influence:
Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology,
55, 591–621.
Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and
informational social influences upon individual judgment.
Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 629–636.
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes.
Human Relations, 7, 117–140.
Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences
of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social
Psychology, 58, 203–210.
Fleminger, S. (1994). Statistical notes. Regression towards the
mean. British Medical Journal, 309(6953), 539.
Homans, G. C. (1992). The human group. Piscataway, NJ:
Transaction. (Original work published 1950)
Izuma, K., & Adolphs, R. (2013). Social manipulation of prefer-
ence in the human brain. Neuron, 78, 563–573.
Izuma, K., Matsumoto, M., Murayama, K., Samejima, K., Sadato,
N., & Matsumoto, K. (2010). Neural correlates of cogni-
tive dissonance and choice-induced preference change.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 107,
22014–22019.
Klucharev, V., Hytonen, K., Rijpkema, M., Smidts, A., &
Fernandez, G. (2009). Reinforcement learning signal pre-
dicts social conformity. Neuron, 61, 140–151.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likeli-
hood model of persuasion. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances
in experimental social psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 123–205).
Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Sharot, T., Fleming, S. M., Yu, X., Koster, R., & Dolan, R. J.
(2012). Is choice-induced preference change long lasting?
Psychological Science, 23, 1123–1129.
Zaki, J., Schirmer, J., & Mitchell, J. P. (2011). Social influence
modulates the neural computation of value. Psychological
Science, 22, 894–900.
at Harvard Libraries on May 22, 2014pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Concerning how long people maintain this change of attitudes, there is conflicting evidence. While Izuma and Adolphs (2013) observed that preferences were still socially influenced after 4 months, Huang et al. (2014) found that such an effect was only noticeable for a few days before the subjects returned to their original preferences. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
In the 21st century, two main challenges for economic research are to propose effective solutions to shape the digital transformation and mitigate human-induced climate change. Research on digital transformation is closely linked to various privacy-related issues, which mostly relate to the preferences and decisions of individuals. In contrast, climate change research examines which factors impede effective cooperation among multiple individuals and investigates how common goals, such as limiting climate change, can be achieved. The link between economics of privacy and environmental economics is that many digital technologies have the potential to generate positive externalities that can contribute to the provision or maintenance of public goods. However, in many cases these digital technologies are characterized by the fact that their use requires the disclosure of personal information. The potential success of these technologies and institutional mechanisms therefore largely depends on social acceptance towards these technologies and institutional mechanisms. Each paper in this cumulative dissertation contributes to the broader question of how economic experiments can contribute to evaluate and potentially increase the efficiency of institutions and technologies that can provide or maintain public goods. The first paper investigates whether the publication process of journals in the field of experimental economics can potentially be improved. The remaining five papers focus directly or indirectly on different but related public goods problems which are closely linked to privacy or environmental issues. Methodologically, the six papers share the feature that they either directly apply the experimental method for their individual research questions or use the results of experimental literature to derive hypotheses and explain empirical outcomes in specific privacy-related contexts. In the field of privacy, the dissertation identifies factors that influence data sharing in several smartphone apps from key industries of the digital transformation and on employer review platforms. In the area of environmental economics, the first paper proposes an institutional mechanism that can increase the willingness to contribute to recycling systems, and the second paper shows that the ability to exploit a public good can impede cooperation to mitigate climate change.
... Concerning how long people maintain this change of attitudes, there is conflicting evidence. While Izuma and Adolphs (2013) observed that preferences were still socially influenced after 4 months, Huang et al. (2014) found that such an effect was only noticeable for a few days before the subjects returned to their original preferences. ...
Article
Online employer review platforms (ERPs) enable employees to evaluate their current and former companies anonymously online. Job-seekers can use the aggregated reviews to obtain information about potentially attractive companies and thus limit the number of suitable companies. However, the matching process between job-seekers and companies can only be effective if the information provided on ERPs is representative and can be trusted. This paper investigates specific characteristics of ERPs using the two large ERPs Kununu and Glassdoor as examples. It is argued that the ERP environment is very different from the well-known and -studied reputation system environment of online marketplaces, and that specific factors can potentially bias reviews on ERPs. Based on a new data set containing the Kununu and Glassdoor reviews of 114 major German employers, it is analyzed if and how design aspects of ERPs and other specific factors affect reviews. Results show that overall (and industry-specific), average review scores on Kununu and Glassdoor differ significantly from each other. Further results indicate that factors such as employees’ awareness of their impact on a company’s reputation also affect reviews. Suggestions are made on how ERPs could reduce the influence of these factors in order to present the aggregated information more effectively.
... One could feasibly mimic the popular view in one's group with the desire to not be the "black sheep" or-in the absence of strong convictions about the truth of the matter-the desire to give the right answer. Neither of these options necessitates the internalization of the group's view, and even genuine conformity-induced attitude shifts last a relatively short time (e.g., 3 days or less for superficial judgments, according to Huang et al., 2014). This is further complicated by the notion that arguments and counterarguments can be difficult to measure and their potentially bidirectional causal role in strengthening or modifying opinions can be even more challenging to understand (Miller & Baron, 1971). ...
... The fact that these changes persisted for at least five months also argues against lower level explanations. Interestingly, Huang, Kendrick, and Yu (2014) reported that preference changes induced by just observing the ratings of other participants, without being able to discuss with them, lasted only for a very short period of time (no more than three days), suggesting the importance of dialogue for creating a durable opinion shift (see also Broockman & Kalla, 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
How much inequality should be tolerated? How should the poorest be treated? Though sometimes conflated, concerns about inequality and the fate of the poorest involve different allocation principles with different sociopolitical implications. We tested whether deliberation—the core of democracy—influences reasoning about distributive principles. 322 participants faced allocation decisions for others between egalitarian (low variance in allocation), utilitarian (high total amount), and maximin (maximizing the welfare of the poorest) options. After their initial decisions, participants either reflected upon similar decisions solely or discussed them in pairs before facing the same choices again individually. Social, but not solitary, deliberation led to more maximin and fewer egalitarian choices, and this change lasted at least 5 months after the experiment. Conversation analyses of approximately 7500 utterances suggest that some participants initially made egalitarian choices heuristically, when in fact they mostly cared about the poorest, and dialogue promoted more internally coherent maximin preferences.
... A similar procedure has also been used in Rosenberg (2014, 2015) and Locher et al. (1999). The no manipulation and manipulation sessions were separated by a month interval: a period of time long enough to make the effect on the manipulation (fake information that the stimulus was a work of art) disappear (Huang, Kendrick, & Yu, 2014). Participants were told that in both the manipulation and control condition they would be presented with human body photographs which could be artworks or amateur works.. To avoid any effect driven by familiarity with the stimuli (Cantor, 1968;Faw and Nunnally, 1971;Zajonc, 1968), 50% of the participants evaluated Set1 as Art and Set2 as Non-Art, while an opposite pairing occurred for the remaining 50%. ...
Article
Despite the increasing interest in the plasticity of aesthetic appreciation, we know comparatively little about the role of individuals' cultural (e.g. the appreciators' expertise) and of social emotional-cognitive (e.g. the social influence of people perceived as warm or competent) variables in modulating the appreciation process. In two experiments we investigated 1) whether people with different art-expertise are influenced differently by con-textual (i.e. stimuli primed as art) and social (i.e. stimuli rated as beautiful by art-critics) information and 2) whether acknowledging the judgment of a person perceived as warm or as competent has a different influence on individuals' aesthetic appreciation of art works. Warmth and competence are two social dimensions of fundamental importance for categorizing others as in-group or out-group (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002). We found that insinuating that the observed works were pieces of art, highly appreciated by art critics, lead expert participants to judge the stimuli as more beautiful in comparison to when the very same stimuli were not preceded by any manipulation. Moreover, we found that both art-experts and non-experts rated the stimuli as more beautiful when they believed it to be highly appreciated by people perceived as warm vs people perceived as competent. These results provide novel information on the plasticity of aesthetics and pave the way to understanding how tastes and preferences in the domain of aesthetics can be influenced.
... For example, participants change their ratings of music when exposed to the opinions of others (Campbell-Meiklejohn et al., 2010) and Izuma and Adolphs (2013) found that participants preferences for t-shirt designs remained influenced by the opinions of others even after 4 months. Yet, Huang, Kendrick and Yu (2014) found that people's ratings of facial attractiveness were influenced by the ratings of others for up to three days but not longer than seven days. ...
Conference Paper
Mimicry involves the unconscious imitation of other people’s behaviour. The social top-down response modulation (STORM) model has suggested that mimicry is a socially strategic behaviour which is modulated according to the social context, for example, we mimic more when someone is looking at us or if we want to affiliate with them. There has been a long debate over whether mimicry is different in autism, a condition characterised by differences in social interaction. STORM predicts that autistic people can and do mimic but do not change their mimicry behaviour according to the social context. Using a range of mimicry measures this thesis aimed to test STORM’s predictions. The first study employed a traditional reaction time measure of mimicry and demonstrated that direct gaze socially modulated mimicry responses in non-autistic adults but did not do so in autistic participants, in line with STORM’s predictions. In the next two studies, I found that non-autistic participants mimicked the movement trajectory of both virtual characters and human actors during an imitation game. Autistic participants also mimicked but did so to a lesser extent. However, this type of mimicry was resistant to the effects of social cues, such as eye-gaze and animacy, contrary to the predictions of STORM. In a fourth study, I manipulated the rationality of an actor’s movement trajectory and found that participants mimicked the trajectory even when the trajectory was rated as irrational. In a fifth study, I showed that people’s tendency to mimic the movements of others could change the choices that participants had previously made in private. This tendency was modulated by the kinematics of the character’s pointing movements. This thesis provides mixed support for STORM’s predictions and I discuss the reasons why this might be. I also make suggestions for how to better measure and modulate mimicry.
Article
To conduct an analysis of the anterior surface of the eye in patients with the newly diagnosed primary open-angle glaucoma in order to choose treatment with or without preservative. We evaluated the front surface of the eye in 46 patients (92 eyes) diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma: 20 men and 26 women aged from 58 to 80 years. The anterior surface of the eye was examined using an analyzer of the anterior eye. The signs of previously diagnosed dry eye syndrome (DES) with various manifestations of dysfunction of meibomian glands and complaints about dry eyes, foreign body sensation, lacrymation and blurred vision were reported in 39 patients (85%). Based on the examination results, preservative-free topical hypotensive medications were recommended for these 39 patients. In order to preserve visual functions and quality of life in patients with newly diagnosed POAG, it is advisable to conduct a preliminary assessment of the condition of the anterior surface of the eye when prescribing drug therapy in order to rationalize the choice of first-line drugs with or without preservative in accordance with the European recommendations of Diagnosis and Treatment for glaucoma.
Article
Full-text available
We social animals must balance the need to avoid infections with the need to interact with conspecifics. To that end we have evolved, alongside our physiological immune system, a suite of behaviors devised to deal with potentially contagious individuals. Focusing mostly on humans, the current review describes the design and biological innards of this behavioral immune system, laying out how infection threat shapes sociality and sociality shapes infection threat. The paper shows how the danger of contagion is detected and posted to the brain; how it affects individuals’ mate choice and sex life; why it strengthens ties within groups but severs those between them, leading to hostility toward anyone who looks, smells, or behaves unusually; and how it permeates the foundation of our moral and political views. This system was already in place when agriculture and animal domestication set off a massive increase in our population density, personal connections, and interaction with other species, amplifying enormously the spread of disease. Alas, pandemics such as COVID-19 not only are a disaster for public health, but, by rousing millions of behavioral immune systems, could prove a threat to harmonious cohabitation too.
Preprint
Full-text available
How much inequality should be tolerated? How should the poorest be treated? Though sometimes conflated, concerns about inequality and the fate of the poorest involve different allocation principles with different sociopolitical implications. We tested whether deliberation—the core of democracy—influences reasoning about distributive principles. 322 participants faced allocation decisions for others between egalitarian (low variance in allocation), utilitarian (high total amount), and maximin (maximizing the welfare of the poorest) options. After their initial decisions, participants either reflected upon similar decisions solely or discussed them in pairs before facing the same choices again individually. Social, but not solitary, deliberation led to more maximin and fewer egalitarian choices, and this change lasted at least 5 months after the experiment. Conversation analyses of approximately 7,500 utterances suggest that some participants initially made egalitarian choices heuristically, when in fact they mostly cared about the poorest, and dialogue promoted more internally coherent maximin preferences.
Article
In his seminal studies, Sherif (1935)showed that social norms can induce persistent changes in perceptual decisions. So far, however, the underlying mechanisms are not understood. Specifically, it is unclear whether social norms can lead to a persistent perceptual bias. Using a diffusion model analysis, we extended the social reinforcement account (social norms work via mechanisms of reinforcement learning). Thereby, our study is the first to disentangle whether the effect of social norms on perceptual decision-making is due to altering the uptake of sensory information (i.e., a perceptual bias)or due to shifting the decision criteria (i.e., a judgmental bias). Across two experiments, our results consistently show that learning of social norms shapes perceptual decision-making due to a lasting perceptual bias towards norm-congruent sensory information. This finding was not moderated by the sociality of the norm, that is, by how strongly norms were linked to group membership. Complementary to current psychological models, our results suggest that social norms might become and remain internalized because individuals are chronically biased towards norm-congruent information.
Article
Full-text available
This chapter outlines the two basic routes to persuasion. One route is based on the thoughtful consideration of arguments central to the issue, whereas the other is based on the affective associations or simple inferences tied to peripheral cues in the persuasion context. This chapter discusses a wide variety of variables that proved instrumental in affecting the elaboration likelihood, and thus the route to persuasion. One of the basic postulates of the Elaboration Likelihood Model—that variables may affect persuasion by increasing or decreasing scrutiny of message arguments—has been highly useful in accounting for the effects of a seemingly diverse list of variables. The reviewers of the attitude change literature have been disappointed with the many conflicting effects observed, even for ostensibly simple variables. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) attempts to place these many conflicting results and theories under one conceptual umbrella by specifying the major processes underlying persuasion and indicating the way many of the traditionally studied variables and theories relate to these basic processes. The ELM may prove useful in providing a guiding set of postulates from which to interpret previous work and in suggesting new hypotheses to be explored in future research. Copyright © 1986 Academic Press Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
The idea that decisions alter preferences has had a considerable influence on the field of psychology and underpins cognitive dissonance theory. Yet it is unknown whether choice-induced changes in preferences are long lasting or are transient manifestations seen in the immediate aftermath of decisions. In the research reported here, we investigated whether these changes in preferences are fleeting or stable. Participants rated vacation destinations before making hypothetical choices between destinations, immediately afterward, and 2.5 to 3 years later. We found that choices altered preferences both immediately after being made and after the delay. These changes could not be accounted for by participants' preexisting preferences, and they occurred only when participants made the choices themselves. Our findings provide evidence that making a decision can lead to enduring change in preferences.
Article
Full-text available
According to many modern economic theories, actions simply reflect an individual's preferences, whereas a psychological phenomenon called "cognitive dissonance" claims that actions can also create preference. Cognitive dissonance theory states that after making a difficult choice between two equally preferred items, the act of rejecting a favorite item induces an uncomfortable feeling (cognitive dissonance), which in turn motivates individuals to change their preferences to match their prior decision (i.e., reducing preference for rejected items). Recently, however, Chen and Risen [Chen K, Risen J (2010) J Pers Soc Psychol 99:573-594] pointed out a serious methodological problem, which casts a doubt on the very existence of this choice-induced preference change as studied over the past 50 y. Here, using a proper control condition and two measures of preferences (self-report and brain activity), we found that the mere act of making a choice can change self-report preference as well as its neural representation (i.e., striatum activity), thus providing strong evidence for choice-induced preference change. Furthermore, our data indicate that the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tracked the degree of cognitive dissonance on a trial-by-trial basis. Our findings provide important insights into the neural basis of how actions can alter an individual's preferences.
Article
Full-text available
The opinions of others can easily affect how much we value things. We investigated what happens in our brain when we agree with others about the value of an object and whether or not there is evidence, at the neural level, for social conformity through which we change object valuation. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we independently modeled (1) learning reviewer opinions about a piece of music, (2) reward value while receiving a token for that music, and (3) their interaction in 28 healthy adults. We show that agreement with two "expert" reviewers on music choice produces activity in a region of ventral striatum that also responds when receiving a valued object. It is known that the magnitude of activity in the ventral striatum reflects the value of reward-predicting stimuli. We show that social influence on the value of an object is associated with the magnitude of the ventral striatum response to receiving it. This finding provides clear evidence that social influence mediates very basic value signals in known reinforcement learning circuitry. Influence at such a low level could contribute to rapid learning and the swift spread of values throughout a population.
Article
Our preferences are influenced by what other people like, but depend critically on how we feel about those people, a classical psychological effect called "cognitive balance." Here, we manipulated preferences for goods by telling participants the preferences of strongly liked or disliked groups of other people. Participants' preferences converged to those of the liked group, but diverged from the disliked group. Activation of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) tracked the discrepancy between one's own preference and its social ideal and was associated with subsequent preference change (toward the liked and away from the disliked group), even several months later. A follow-up study found overlapping activation in this same region of dmPFC with negative monetary outcomes, but no overlap with nearby activations induced by response conflict. A single social encounter can thus result in long-lasting preference change, a mechanism that recruits dmPFC and that may reflect the aversive nature of cognitive imbalance.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
Social influence--individuals' tendency to conform to the beliefs and attitudes of others--has interested psychologists for decades. However, it has traditionally been difficult to distinguish true modification of attitudes from mere public compliance with social norms; this study addressed this challenge using functional neuroimaging. Participants rated the attractiveness of faces and subsequently learned how their peers ostensibly rated each face. Participants were then scanned using functional MRI while they rated each face a second time. The second ratings were influenced by social norms: Participants changed their ratings to conform to those of their peers. This social influence was accompanied by modulated engagement of two brain regions associated with coding subjective value--the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex--a finding suggesting that exposure to social norms affected participants' neural representations of value assigned to stimuli. These findings document the utility of neuroimaging to demonstrate the private acceptance of social norms.
Article
We often change our decisions and judgments to conform with normative group behavior. However, the neural mechanisms of social conformity remain unclear. Here we show, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, that conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with principles of reinforcement learning. We found that individual judgments of facial attractiveness are adjusted in line with group opinion. Conflict with group opinion triggered a neuronal response in the rostral cingulate zone and the ventral striatum similar to the "prediction error" signal suggested by neuroscientific models of reinforcement learning. The amplitude of the conflict-related signal predicted subsequent conforming behavioral adjustments. Furthermore, the individual amplitude of the conflict-related signal in the ventral striatum correlated with differences in conforming behavior across subjects. These findings provide evidence that social group norms evoke conformity via learning mechanisms reflected in the activity of the rostral cingulate zone and ventral striatum.