ArticlePDF Available

Alpha brain oscillations, approach attitude, and locus of control affect self-perception of social efficacy in cooperative joint-action


Abstract and Figures

The neurophysiological basis of social ranking perception underlying the execution of cooperative joint-actions was explored in the present study. Self-perception of social ranking, personality trait (Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and locus of control (LoC)) and alpha brain oscillations were considered. Subjects were required to match their cognitive performance in terms of accuracy (error rate) and response time. A positive feedback condition of a better joint-performance was provided and compared to absence of feedback. It was found that higher BAS participants and higher internal LoC responded in greater measure to post-feedback condition with better real performance probably based on their sensitivity to rewarding for high-BAS and the increased sense of self-efficacy. Moreover, higher-BAS showed an increased frontal left activity when they perceived increased cooperative efficacy. The present results confirmed the tendency to modulate both self-perceived social position and real performance based on the personal attitudes and the frontal.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Frontiers in Life Science
ISSN: 2155-3769 (Print) 2155-3777 (Online) Journal homepage:
Alpha brain oscillations, approach attitude, and
locus of control affect self-perception of social
efficacy in cooperative joint-action
Michela Balconi & Maria Elide Vanutelli
To cite this article: Michela Balconi & Maria Elide Vanutelli (2018) Alpha brain oscillations,
approach attitude, and locus of control affect self-perception of social efficacy in cooperative joint-
action, Frontiers in Life Science, 11:1, 11-25, DOI: 10.1080/21553769.2018.1465858
To link to this article:
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa
UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis
Published online: 20 Apr 2018.
Submit your article to this journal
View related articles
View Crossmark data
VOL. 11, NO. 1, 11–25
Alpha brain oscillations, approach attitude, and locus of control affect
self-perception of social efficacy in cooperative joint-action
Michela Balconi a,band Maria Elide Vanutellia,b
aResearch Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy; bDepartment of Psychology, Catholic
University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy
The neurophysiological basis of social ranking perception underlying the execution of cooperative
joint-actions was explored in the present study. Self-perception of social ranking, personality trait
(Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and locus of control (LoC)) and alpha brain oscillations were
considered. Subjects were required to match their cognitive performance in terms of accuracy (error
rate) and response time. A positive feedback condition of a better joint-performance was provided
and compared to absence of feedback. It was found that higher BAS participants and higher internal
LoC responded in greater measure to post-feedback condition with better real performance prob-
ably based on their sensitivity to rewarding for high-BAS and the increased sense of self-efficacy.
Moreover, higher-BAS showed an increased frontal left activity when they perceived increased coop-
erative efficacy. The present results confirmed the tendency to modulate both self-perceived social
position and real performance based on the personal attitudes and the frontal.
Received 4 December 2017
Accepted 10 April 2018
Social ranking perception;
alpha oscillation; BAS; LoC;
lateralization effect
Only in the recent years, neuroscience begun to
explore how the brain represents social hierarchies
and social status (Freeman et al. 2009). Previous
research suggested an important role for social interac-
tions and social self-perception in achieving accurate
self-knowledge and self-improvement, particularly in
response to performance-related social comparisons
and to social status in the context of performance-
based feedback (Munafò et al. 2005). This direct com-
parison between subjects on a specic task may or may
not improve our rank perception and social status rep-
resentation in term of ecacy, taking into account the
existing inter-personal condition. Indeed, in human
ious dimensions: we can be socially ranked according
to ability or skill, as well as economic, physical, and
professional standing. Moreover, social status percep-
tion was shown to reciprocally aect performance on
tasks that involve comparing our own performance
with that of others (Munafò et al. 2005).
Recent social neuroscience studies showed that dis-
tinct neural systems are involved in the experience
CONTACT Michela Balconi Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Largo Gemelli, 1, 20123,
Milan, Italy
of social hierarchy and social status, and that activity
within these brain regions is modulated by individ-
ual and personality factors. A neural circuit linking
limbic, prefrontal cortex (PFC), and striatal structures
was found to reect the emotional, cognitive, and
behavioral components of rank-related social inter-
actions(Levitanetal.2000). Recent investigations
examining the structure and function of brain areas
associated with social perception, social ecacy, and
social ranking oer preliminary support for this neu-
ral mechanism of a human social system. Dorsal
(DLPFC) and ventral (VLPFC) portions of lateral PFC
– brain regions typically associated with regulating
socioemotional responses and behavioral inhibition
– are recruited during social status inference (Chiao
et al. 2009; Balconi and Pagani 2014,2015;Balconi
and Vanutelli 2016). The engagement of DLPFC and
VLPFC regions during the observation of social inter-
actions and social status implications probably reects
recruitment of brain regions that can exert top-down
control over specic processes, such as emotional
responses to social hierarchy, to orchestrate a socially
appropriate status response (Marsh et al. 2009).
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor& Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider the implication of
cortical areas, mainly the PFC, which was shown to be
activated in response to social ranking perception in
conjunction with some specic contextual conditions,
i.e. subjective performance (self-perception of status
due to cognitive skills for cooperation or competition)
(Balconi and Pagani 2014,2015; Balconi and Vanutelli
2016,2017) and personality components, such as emo-
tional and motivational behavior (Hall et al. 2005;
Chiao et al. 2008). Indeed, it is relevant to distinguish
tion within a hierarchy in dierent conditions, that
is in competitive or in cooperative conditions. Some
previous studies explored the eect of competition
on self-perception, ecacy in social interaction, and
social ranking within the social hierarchy. It was found
that competition may increase the eective subjective
performance and perception of higher social ranking,
but it contemporarily may induce a decreased sense
more weak (Goldman et al. 1977). That is the subject
would pay for his/her better performance in terms of
‘being less socially part of ’.
Less studies applied similar paradigms in cooper-
ative conditions (Funane et al. 2011; Cui et al. 2012;
Chung et al. 2015). It was shown that cooperative
strategies reinforce the sense of in-group, self-ecacy,
and perception of higher social position as well as
social well-being (Goldman et al. 1977). However in
some cases, the real performance was worse than in
competitive condition (Funane et al. 2011). In addi-
tion, the perceived improved ecacy during the coop-
erative task (with the sense of being able to produce
a better performance) may induce also higher social
ranking perception. For this reason, the ‘reinforce’ of
self-perceived ecacy during a cooperation may be a
usable tool to modulate the social perceived ecacy
and the direct impact on the real performance (Balconi
and Pagani 2015).
However, compared with previous research, two
relevant aspects were underestimated and should
be considered to evaluate the cooperative eect on
social self-perception: the presence of a real coop-
erative/competitive dynamic interaction between co-
partners, during the performance (Montague 2002);
some personality eects related to emotional (such
as approach/withdrawal attitude to emotions) (Gray
1990) and self-perception of internal/external control
(such as locus of control (LoC)) (Rotter 1966).
About the rst aspect, in the present research the
ically modulated the subject’s perceived status in
terms of performance, was articially manipulated in a
dyadic vis-à-vis cooperative condition which stressed
the joint-eect of a coordinated strategy. Thus, we cre-
ated a dyadic interactive task which strongly reinforced
social relationship. In contrast with previous studies
(Zink et al. 2008), we included a more ecologic task,
where subjects were required to compare their per-
formance constantly with that of the other subject.
Specically, a direct comparison with the second sub-
ject (interlocutor, I) was required so that the dynamic
improved performances were constantly compared
between partners. This comparison tested the eect
of the subject’s own status modication related to I’s
status. The real performance was also tested (better
or worse attentional performance) in response to this
ctitious increasing scoring.
Secondly, about the personality and motivational
components, the way individuals judge their social
ranking positions partially depends on some per-
sonality factors, such as the degree to which their
response to rewards and non-punishments and ‘with-
drawing’ from non-reward and punishments. These
emotional and motivational components appear to
be highly relevant with respect to social hierarchies.
Indeed, recent research found that emotions are able to
regulate the social hierarchies by inducing more posi-
tive versus negative predispositions in social relation-
ships. Specically, it was previously found that subjects
with a higher the Behavioral Activation System (BAS;
Gray 1994) were more likely to relate to the dominant
character in a dyadic interaction, which was found to
induce a positive eect, while those with a higher the
Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS; Farrow et al. 2011)
were more inclined to relate to the submissive charac-
ter, inducing a negative aect (Demaree 2005). More-
over, in our previous research, a signicant BAS eect
was found in distinguishing social hierarchy (Balconi
and Pagani 2014; Balconi, Crivelli, Vanutelli 2017).
The BAS system is responsible for both approach and
active behaviors, and emotions associated with these
behaviors generally induce the subject to approach to
situations that have generated the emotional response.
The BAS is conceptualized as a motivational system
that is sensitive to signals of reward, non-punishment,
and that is important for engaging behavior toward
feelings of optimism, sociality, and dominance (Gable
et al. 2000;GrayandMcNaughton2000; Balconi and
Mazza 2009,2010). People with highly sensitive BAS
may respond in great measure to approach-related
emotional contexts that allow the subject to have a
favorable and dominant behavior toward the environ-
ment (Davidson et al. 1990;Tomarkenetal.1992;
Balconi et al. 2009a,2009b,2012). Conversely, highly
sensitive BIS people inhibit behavior in response to
stimuli that are novel, innately feared, and conditioned
to be aversive. Thus, the BIS is conceptualized as a
system that is sensitive to cues of punishment and
non-reward, and that functions to interrupt ongoing
behavior in order to facilitate the processing of these
cues in preparation for a response (Fowles 2000;Yu
and Dayan 2005). Gray also held that BIS functioning
is responsible for the experience of negative feelings
such as fear and anxiety in response to these cues (Gray
About the cortical correlates of these systems, left
PFC was shown to support the approach-related moti-
vations and emotions, whereas the right PFC was
tions and emotions (Bechara et al. 1999;Bechara
and Martin 2004; Balconi and Mazza 2010;Balconi
et al. 2012). These lateralized approach and with-
drawal or punishment reward systems are viewed as
mutually inhibitory. Therefore, the role of these two
antithetic prefrontal systems, on the one hand, and
that of the frontal ‘social’ brain circuit, on the other
hand, was supposed to be able to elucidate the social
self-perception hierarchy. Thus, we may suppose that,
there are dierent contributions of the left and right
hemispheres on self-perception of social ranking.
A second personality component was the respon-
siveness to social situations. A relevant concept was
identied in the ‘locus of control’ (LoC) which refers to
the extent to which individuals believe they can control
events aecting them. Indeed subjective ‘locus’ is con-
believes his decisions and life are controlled by envi-
ronmental factors which they cannot inuence, or by
chance. In general, about the perception of social rank-
ing, it was shown that high level of internal LoC may be
predictive of perceived and real higher self-ecacy, as
higher job-related self-ecacy (Strauser et al. 2002).
In relation to cooperation/competition, it was
shown that in specic cooperative tasks internal LoC
favors a cooperative behavior. It was suggested that
individuals gradually learn to understand the subtle
interplay between cooperation and self-interest and
that internals are more astute in learning to cooper-
ate because they are more endowed with the cognitive
faculties necessary for quick learning than externals
(Boone et al. 2002). It was also suggested the existence
pliant performance (Blau 1993). Moreover, as shown
by previous research, there is support for a direct link
and inter-relationship between individuals’ approach-
avoidance tendencies and their LoC. It was observed
that individuals with a predominant approach moti-
vation tend to have an internal LoC, suggesting that
these individuals are likely to see themselves in con-
trol of their own actions and outcomes (Kramer and
Yo o n 2007).
Therefore, the aim of the present study was to inves-
tigate the neurophysiological basis of social ranking
perception underlying the execution of cooperative
joint-actions. Based on our hypotheses, observed per-
formance and external feedback (increased perfor-
mance in cooperation), from one hand, and person-
ality components, from the other hand, may aect
the self-perception of social position and hierarchy,
and they eectively may interact to impact our social
success. That is, the perceived eectiveness of our per-
formance during a cooperative task and some specic
personality components related to reward mechanisms
and LoC may positively guide self-perception of our
position within the social ranking and consequently
may impact on the social ability to stay with other
In addition, to explore respectively the BIS/BAS
and the LoC contribution, we considered the corti-
cal responsiveness (electroencephalographic activity,
EEG) to cooperative situation during an attentional
performance. Modulation of EEG alpha brain oscil-
lations may be considered a valid measure of brain
activation, and it has often been applied to describe
distinct responsiveness by the two hemispheres to dif-
ferent social conditions (Sutton and Davidson 1997;
Balconi and Mazza 2009; Balconi et al. 2012). In the
frontal system, a reduction of alpha power in the
attitude (Balconi and Mazza 2010; Balconi et al. 2011),
whereas withdrawal conditions induced reduction in
alpha power in the right frontal brain (Balconi et al.
2009a,2009b). Resting EEG studies have shown that
frontal hemispheric activation asymmetry in favor of
the right PFC reects an individual predisposition to
respond in terms of withdrawal-related social behavior
(Davidson 2004;Harmon-Jones2004), whereas the left
PFC reects an individual predisposition to respond in
terms of approach-related social behavior (Davidson
Specically, the brain correlates of this dynamic
cooperative exchange was examined and it should be
plausible that the hemispheric ‘competition’ between
the left and right sides would characterize social
hierarchy behavior, showing a higher approach atti-
tude in higher cooperative condition with an imbal-
ance in favor of the left hemisphere. Specically,
we supposed that higher BAS participants (higher-
BAS) may respond in greater measure to increased
cooperative performance based on their sensitivity
to rewarding and high dominant conditions. There-
fore, decreased alpha activity should be found respec-
tively for higher-BAS in the frontal left brain area
in perceived increased cooperative ecacy. In addi-
tion, in the case of higher internal LoC component
(higher-LoC) this eect should be enhanced since the
increased performance eect should generate a more
consistent response in internals (Strauser et al. 2002).
Concerning the real cognitive performance, consis-
tent better performance should be found for higher-
BAS and higher-LoC trait in the case of perceived
higher ranking, as an eect of a more reinforcing con-
dition. This ‘improving performance eect’ should be
more signicant in higher-BAS as a concomitant eect
of perceived dominance and reward, which higher-
BAS estimate in greater measure.
Finally, a signicant relation should be found
between these multiple measures, since we expected a
correlated increased frontal left brain activity mainly
in higher-BAS and higher-LoC, and that this activ-
ity should be related rstly with a better performance
and secondly with the self-perception of an increased
social ranking and social ecacy.
Materials and methods
Twenty-four undergraduate students (M=22.73,
SD =2.11; male =11) took part in the experiment.
The participants were all right-handed and presented
normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity and they
gave informed written consent to participate in the
study. Exclusion criteria were history of psychopathol-
ogy (Beck Depression Inventory, Beck et al. 1996)for
the subjects and immediate family. In addition, State-
Trait-Anxiety-Inventory (Spielberger et al. 1970)was
submitted after the experimental session. No neuro-
logical or psychiatric pathologies were observed. No
payment was provided for subjects’ performance. The
research was approved by the local ethics committee
of the Department of Psychology, Catholic University
of Milan. The study was conducted in accordance with
the Declaration of Helsinki.
Subjects were seated comfortably in a moderately
darkened room with a monitor screen positioned
approximately 60 cm in front of their eyes. They per-
formed a simple task for sustained selective atten-
tion (it was a modied version of Balconi and Pagani
2014). Subjects were told that some cognitive atten-
tional measures were used to evaluate the subjective
skills and, to reinforce their motivation, that these
measures were usually applied as screening to test
future professional career success and teamwork capa-
bilities. In addition, the cooperative nature of the task
was stressed. Indeed, subjects were told that the scor-
ing was based on the capacity to synchronize their
responses, in term of accuracy (number of correct
responses: hits) and response times (RTs), with a sec-
ond interlocutor (I). They were seated side-by-side, but
separated by a black screen in a way that they could not
see each other.
Subjects were required to select a target stimulus
between non-targets, based on four dierent options
of shape/color: the stimuli might interchangeably be
a triangle or a circle, colored red or green. They were
required to distinguish between target/non-target by
focusing attention on each stimulus. The target was
displayed on the video (indicated as the target for
selection) and the successive stimuli were presented
every 25 trials. The subjects were instructed to make
a two-alternative forced-choice response by press-
ing a left/right button. Each stimulus was presented
for 500 ms, with a 300 ms inter-stimulus interval.
After each trial, composed of three stimuli, subjects
received a feedback signaled by two up-arrows (high
Figure 1. Experimental procedure which represents setting, task, and measure acquisition.
cooperation score); a dash (mean performance); or
two down-arrows (low cooperation score). This feed-
back remained for 5000ms. After the feedback, an
inter-trial interval occurred for other 5000 m. The task
was composed of two sessions: the rst which did not
include a specic feedback to performance (4 blocks
before the feedback, 100 trials); the second which
included a specic positive feedback to performance
(4 blocks with the feedback, 100 trials) (Figure 1).
Halfway, participants received a general evaluation of
their cooperative performance: actually, both feed-
told they had a good cooperation (synchronicity) score
with 87% in terms of speed synchrony, and 92% in
terms of accuracy synchrony. They were also encour-
aged to maintain their performance level during the
second part of the experiment. Across the task, after
the initial mean performance, subjects were constantly
reinforced about their good cooperation by presenting
the up-arrows in 70% of cases, while the dash or the
down-arrows appeared in 30% of cases. In addition,
to evaluate their performance and ecacy in term
of their ranking on a seven-point Likert scale (from
one =most decreased ranking due to performance, to
seven =most improved ranking due to performance).
Participants were strongly engaged in the hierarchi-
cal context (92% told to be strongly engaged), as was
evident by post-session questionnaire data. The sub-
social status (94%), the perceived improved ranking
position during the task (93%).
To exclude the learning or order eect and to con-
rm the feedback eect, a pre-experimental phase
was included. In this rst preliminary phase (pre-
experimental control condition), subjects were not
asked to activate a joined task, but they were only
without a specic cooperation feedback (t0). There-
fore, including this task, the entire procedure was com-
posed of three sessions: a rst preliminary phase (con-
trol condition, pre-experimental phase) where subjects
were asked only to execute the attention task individu-
ally (t0) (4 blocks, 100 trials). Then, for the successive
experimental session, a second phase was included (t1)
where subjects were required to synchronize their per-
formance (4 blocks before the feedback, 100 trials),
social feedback described above (4 blocks after the
feedback, 100 trials) (Figure 1).
BAS scores
BAS scores were calculated for each subject by using
the Italian version (Leone et al. 2002)ofCarverand
White Questionnaire (1994). It included 24 items (20
score-items and 4 llers, each measured on a 4-point
Likert scale), and 2 total scores for BIS (range =7–28;
items 7) and BAS (range =13–52; items 13). BAS
naire was submitted to the subject after completing
the experimental phase. Two total scores (BIS and
BAS total) and three BAS subscale scores were cal-
culated. The mean values and standard deviations
for each scale were respectively: BAS: 48.35 (4.12);
Reward: 23.33 (2.45); Drive: 13.41 (2.20); Fun Seek-
ing: 13.58 (2.60). Finally, Cronbach’s alpha was cal-
culated for BAS (0.90) and separately for each BAS
subscale (Reward 0.89; Drive 0.86; and Fun Seek-
ing 0.90). Based on these subscale ratings, we con-
sidered two sub-groups of subjects: higher-BAS and
lower-BAS subjects. The rst group includes subjects
with high BAS scoring (more than 52, mean+1SD,
N=10); the second group includes subjects with low
BAS scoring (less than 44, mean 1SD,N=14).
Two subjects were excluded from the nal analysis
since they showed a mixed-prole (both high-BAS and
et al. 1984)wasappliedtomeasuretheinternal
and external LoC. Here, the Italian version was used
(Farma and Cortinovis 2000): it was composed of 17
items, each valuable on a 6-point Likert scale, rang-
ing from 0 (‘strongly disagree’) to 5 intervals (‘strongly
agree’): e.g. ‘I can anticipate diculties and take action
to avoid them’, ‘My mistakes and problems are my
responsibility to deal with’. Seven questions (1, 5, 7,
8, 13, 15, 16) assess internal control, while the oth-
ers evaluate external control. The score is obtained
by summing the items for external control and the
inverted scorings about internal control.
The mean values and standard deviations for the
scale were 32.0 and 7.2. According to subjects’ ratings,
we considered two sub-groups of subjects: higher-LoC
(more internal component) and lower-LoC (less inter-
nal component) subjects. The rst group includes sub-
jects with high LoC scoring (more than 39, mean +1
SD, N=10); the second group includes subjects with
low LoC scoring (less than 25, mean 1SD,N=14).
Two subjects were excluded from the nal analysis
since they did not show a clear high- vs. low-prole.
EEG recordings were performed with two 16-channel
portable EEG-System (V-AMP: Brain Products,
München. Truscan: Deymed Diagnostic, Hronov).
An ElectroCap with Ag/AgCl electrodes was used to
record EEGs from active scalp sites referred to the
earlobes (10/5 system of electrode placement; Oosten-
veld and Praamstra 2001). Data were acquired using
0.01–40 Hz. An o-line common average reference
was successively computed to limit the problems asso-
ciated with the signal-to-noise ratio (Ludwig et al.
2009). Additionally, one electroculogram (EOG) elec-
trode was placed on the outer canthi to detect eye
movements. The impedance of the recording elec-
trodes was monitored for each subject prior to data col-
lection and was always below 5 k.Afterperforming
EOG correction and visual inspection, only artifact-
free trials were considered (rejected epochs, 2%). The
signal was visually scored, and a portion of the data
that contained artifacts were removed to increase
specicity. Blinks were also visually monitored. Ocu-
lar artifacts (eye movements and blinks) were cor-
rected using an eye-movement correction algorithm
that employs a regression analysis in combination with
artifact averaging (Sapolsky 2004).
EEG activity was recorded on positions AFF1h,
AFF2h, Fz, FFC3h, FFC4h, C3, C4, Cz, P3, P4, Pz,
T7, T8, O1, O2. The digital EEG data were band-
ltering 96 dB/octave rollo, warm-up lter left and
right to 100 ms). To obtain a signal proportion to the
power of the EEG frequency band, the ltered signal
samples (epoch 1000 ms) were squared (Pfurtscheller
1992). An average absolute power value for each exper-
imental condition was calculated. An average of the
pre-experimental absolute power (200 ms before the
beginning of the pre-experimental session) was used to
determine the individual power during no task condi-
tion. For the statistical analysis, left and right frontal
(FFC3h, FFC4h) alpha power activity was considered,
A preliminary analysis was applied to t0 (pre-
experimental task) compared to t1 (pre-feedback
cooperative task) and t2 (post-feedback cooperative
task). Systematic signicant dierences were found
between t0 vs. t2, for both behavioral and neuro-
physiological measures, but not for the comparison
between t0 vs. t1. These results support the specicity
of feedback eect compared to absence of feedback for
the cooperative task.
Four sets of analyses were performed with respect
to behavioral (error rate, ER; RTs; ranking self-
perception) and alpha band measures. Mixed-model
ANOVAs were applied to these dependent measures.
The independent factors were within-subjects factor
condition (pre–post-feedback); between-subjects fac-
tors BAS (high-BAS vs. low-BAS) and LoC (high-
LoC vs. low-LoC). They were applied to ER, RTs, and
self-perception variables. For an alpha band depen-
dent variable, the independent factors (mixed-model
ANOVAs) were condition, BAS, LoC, and hemisphere
side (Lat, left vs. right). The RTs were recorded from
the stimulus onset, and ER was calculated as the
total number of incorrect detections out of the total
trial for each category. Higher values represented
increased incorrect responses. About self-perception,
the increased or decreased self-perceived ranking was
considered. Alpha band modulation was calculated for
of freedom were corrected using Greenhouse–Geisser
epsilon where appropriate. Post hoc comparisons (con-
trast analyses) were applied to the data. Post hoc anal-
yses (simple eects for paired comparisons; contrast
eects for mixed design ANOVA) were applied in the
case of signicant main or interactions eect.
Finally, correlational analyses were applied to BAS,
LOC, alpha, and self-perception questionnaire.
ANOVA indicated signicant main eects for Cond
(F[1, 23] =7.18, p.001, η2=.36), with decreased
ER for post-feedback; BAS (F[1, 23] =7.90, p.001,
η2=.38), with decreased ER for high-BAS; and inter-
action eects BAS ×Cond (F[1, 23] =8.11, p.001,
η2=.41); LoC ×Cond (F[1, 23] =8.09, p.001,
η2=.39); BAS ×LoC ×Cond (F[1, 23] =7.70,
p.001, η2=.37). About the rst interaction eect,
high-BAS showed a decreased ER in post-feedback
compared to pre-feedback condition (F[1, 23] =7.51,
η2=.36). Secondly, ER decreased for high-LoC
in post-feedback compared to pre-feedback (F[1,
23] =8.54, p.001, η2=.40). Thirdly, about the
BAS ×LoC ×Cond, high-BAS compared to all the
other level showed decreased ER in post-feedback
Figure 2. ERs modulation as a function of BAS and LoC vari-
ables. Significant differences were found between pre- and post-
feedback condition for high-BAS and between high-BAS and the
other subjects’ categories (low-BAS, high-LoC, and low-LoC) in
post-feedback condition.
(respectively high-LoC F[1, 23] =7.30, p.001,
η2=.36; low-LoC F[1, 23] =7.15, p.001, η2=
.36; low-BAS F[1, 23] =7.09, p.001, η2=.36)
(Figure 2).
ANOVA indicated signicant main eects for Cond
(F[1, 23] =8.16, p.001, η2=.40), with decreased
RTs for post-feedback; BAS (F[1, 23] =9.12, p.001,
action eects BAS ×Cond (F[1, 23] =8.50, p.001,
η2=.41); and LoC ×Cond (F[1, 23] =8.12, p
.001, η2=.39). About the rst interaction eect, high-
BAS showed decreased RTs in post-feedback com-
pared to pre-feedback condition (F[1, 23] =8.50,
p.001, η2=.40). Similarly, high-LoC showed
decreased RTs in post-feedback compared to pre-
feedback condition (F[1, 23] =9.23, p.001,
η2=.45) (Figure 3).
About the evaluation of their ranking position in
term of performance, ANOVA indicated signicant
interaction eects for BAS ×Cond (F[1, 23] =8.80,
p.001, η2=.41); LoC ×Cond (F[1, 23] =9.73,
p.001, η2=.44); and BAS ×LoC ×Cond (F[1,
23] =8.40, p.001, η2=.42). About the rst inter-
action eect, high-BAS showed higher ranking per-
ception than low-BAS in post-feedback (F[1, 23] =
7.14, p.001, η2=.37). In addition, high-BAS
revealed higher ranking in post- than pre-feedback
(F[1, 23] =7.89, p.001, η2=.38). Similarly, high-
LoC showed increased perception of ranking in
Figure 3. RTs modulation as a function of BAS and LoC vari-
ables. Significant differences were found between pre- and post-
feedback condition for high-BAS and high-LoC.
Figure 4. Ranking self-perception modulation as a function
of BAS and LoC variables. Significant differences were found
between pre- and post-feedback condition for high-BAS and high-
LoC; and between high-BAS and high-LoC.
post-feedback compared to pre-feedback condition
(F[1, 23] =9.09, p.001, η2=.45). Finally, about
the threefold interaction eect, high-BAS revealed
increased self-perception of high ranking than high-
LoC in post-feedback (F[1, 23] =8.33, p.001,
η2=.40), as well as for low-LoC and low-BAS
(Figure 4).
Alpha band
ANOVA indicated signicant main eects for Lat×
Cond (F[1, 23] =7.09, p.001, η2=.35), with
decreased left alpha activity for post-feedback com-
pared to pre-feedback condition; LoC ×Cond (F[1,
23] =9.78, p.001, η2=.45) with decreased left
alpha activity for high-LoC than low-LoC in post-
feedback condition (F[1, 23] =8.32, p.001,
η2=.40); BAS ×Lat (F[1, 23] =9.78, p.001,
high-BAS than low-BAS F[1, 23] =9.78, p.001,
η2=.45); BAS ×Lat ×Cond (F[1, 23] =9.16,
Figure 5. Alpha band variation as a function of BAS (a) and LoC
(b). Significant effects were found for high-BAS subjects, who
showed a systematic increased left-activity than right-activity,
mainly in post-feedback condition and compared to LoC.
p.001, η2=.44), with decreased left alpha for
high-BAS in post-feedback than pre-feedback condi-
tion (F[1, 23] =8.90, p.001, η2=.43); and with
decreased left alpha response for high-BAS than low-
BASinpost-feedbackcondition(F[1, 23] =9.08,
p.001, η2=.44).
Finally BAS ×LoC ×Lat ×Cond was signicant
(F[1, 23] =10.08, p.001, η2=.48). Post hoc com-
parisons (contrast paired comparisons) revealed a sig-
nicant dierence between high-BAS and high-LoC,
since high-BAS showed decreased left alpha activ-
ity in post-feedback than high-LoC (F[1, 23] =9.08,
p.001, η2=.44) (Figure 5(a,b)).
Correlational analysis
BAS, LoC, self-ranking, and alpha measures. Pear-
son correlation coecients were calculated between
them. BAS revealed a signicant positive correla-
tion with self-ranking (r2=.455, p.001) and LoC
(r2=.525, p.001). Similarly, LoC was positively
correlated with self-ranking (r2=.478, p.001). In
Figure 6. Pearson correlational values. Significant correlations
were shown by (a) the scatterplots for BAS, LoC, and self-rating
and (b) the scatterplots for LoC and self-rating.
addition, alpha was inversely correlated with BAS
within the left hemisphere (r2=−.385, p.001)
higher BAS), as well with self-ranking (r2=−.409,
p.001) (increased left activity in concomitance with
higher self-ranking). No other eect was statistically
signicant (Figure 6(a,b)).
The present research intended to explore ranking
perception during a social cooperative task which
included a joint-action where a performance-based
feedback was provided. Specically, we considered
the contribution of cortical correlates (alpha band
modulation) and some personality traits components
representation and self-improvement in social con-
texts. Based on our results, three main eects were
systematic frontal brain (PFC) responses to social
status perception in cooperation. This PFC activation
feedback) was furnished to the subjects for their joint-
action. Therefore, this brain activity was reinforced
by self-representation of a better joint-performance
in cooperation. Secondly, a signicant lateralization
eect was revealed, with a more engaged left hemi-
sphere. Mainly after the positive reinforce, the role of
left PFC was preponderant as activated by the percep-
tion of ecacy in cooperative behavior. These results
were also conrmed by self-representation of rating,
with increased perception of higher status and social
ranking, and by real subjective performance, with
decreased ERs and RTs, in concomitance with higher
left PFC responsiveness and mainly in response to pos-
to be eective in modulating alpha activity, social
ranking perception, and real performance, with higher
left responsiveness, self-perception of ranking, as well
as improved performance post-feedback for high-BAS
and high-LoC.
About the rst eect, a consistent PFC contribution
was observed in response to cooperative condition.
Specically, as shown by EEG data, the DLPFC was
mainly implicated when subjects were informed on
their ecient joint-action. This eect was supported
in the present study by modulation of alpha frequency
band that is increased brain activity (reduced alpha
power) in response to social interaction which asks
for cooperation between subjects. Prior work has sug-
gested a main role for the ventromedial prefrontalcor-
tex (VMPFC) in responding to status (Karan et al.
2004). Specically, it was found that patients with
VMPFC lesions made less use of information in their
dominance judgments (Karan et al. 2004). Recent
studies investigating the eect of partner strategies
found dierential activation in the DLPFC when play-
ing with cooperative, neutral, and non-cooperative
human partners (Suzuki et al. 2011) and activation in
the superior temporal sulcus during successful adap-
tion to the strategies of computer agents (Haruno
and Kawato 2009). Additionally, De Vico Fallani et al.
(2010) using the EEG hyper-scanning technique has
reported activation in this region during reciprocal
interaction in iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma games.
Given the evolutionary prevalence and importance
of social ranking and social perception in cooperative
contexts, where hierarchy across species and across
‘social’ brain has specialized mechanisms for perceiv-
ing social status and joint-actions in integration with
specic personality factors.
More interestingly, the post-feedback condition
revealed an increased DLPFC responsiveness. As
shown by correlational analyses, this brain modula-
tion (alpha decreasing) was accompanied by the sig-
nicant increased ranking perception as well as by
the increased performance (decreased ERs and RTs).
Indeed, it was found that subjects highly improved
their real performance in response to the external
feedback, that is the perception of their outcomes in
relationship with those of joint-I. Therefore, the self-
evidence of a good cooperation (positive feedback
condition) produced also a more consistent impact,
with higher eect for the ranking position and the
cognitive performance compared to the absence of
external feedback.
We may suppose that the relevant eect, when this
rating was compared with that of a cooperative I, was
related to the impact of the perceived performance
on the cognitive real performance. Therefore, rstly,
the manipulation of the feedback has an impact on
social rank representation, with a possible direct eect
on self-representation. Secondly, this intrinsic rela-
tion also highlights the possibility of considering the
reciprocal inuence of cognitive behavior and self-
sort of ‘self-fullling prophecy’ may be adduced: the
social signicance of the performance for the social
hierarchy appears to be highly relevant in modulating
the subjects’ performance across the task. This eect
was observed for the entire duration of the experiment
with a consistent and parallel increasing of ranking
perception and subjective performance.
At this regard, Festinger’s long-standing, promi-
nent theory of social comparison processes (Fes-
tinger 1954) suggested an important role for hier-
archical rank in achieving accurate self-knowledge,
self-representation, and self-improvement for subjects.
Therefore, these three components (social ranking
perception; social reinforce; brain activity) may be
considered as main factors able to aect the subjec-
tive behavior, and the PFC activation was the under-
lying correlate of this ecacious mechanism. How-
ever, it should be noted that, in comparison with
some previous research (Dötsch and Schubö 2015),
in the present study both the performance and self-
representation modication were not generated when
a generic positive feedback provided, but the induced
reinforce was specically related to their cooperative
joint-ecacy: they ‘perceived’ themselves to be more
ecacious in cooperation with other I. We may sug-
gest that in the present condition subjects represent
their social cooperative ecacy as the key point of
their performance, and, in this regard not only PFC
modulates its activity when performance is perceived
as increasing, but it is also associated to the perception
of increased social ecacy in joint-behavior.
The second main result of the present research was
related to a clear hemispheric lateralization eect. As
elucidated by the present data, lateralized left corti-
cal network within the PFC (left DLPFC) supported
self-perception of ranking and improved performance
derived by cooperative tasks. The fact that this cortical
‘unbalance’ in favor of the left hemisphere in response
to positive reinforcing conditions was also accom-
panied by a better performance and an increased
social ecacy in term of ranking attribution, as shown
by the correlational analysis, which underlined the
direct link between the left cortical activity, the exter-
nal social ranking representation, and the eective
behavior. Moreover, previous research demonstrated
that high social power perception is indeed associ-
ated with greater left-frontal brain activity compared
to low social power (Boksem et al. 2012). The specic
cortical localization may suggest the consistent over-
activation of the cortical left system and a concomitant
predominance of this brain area in managing the cog-
nitive behavior of the subjects when they perceive to
be higher in ranking.
More generally, in this study, the left hemisphere
eect was demonstrated to be prominent to explain
our results. As pointed out by Koslov et al. (2013),
correlational research suggests that frontal cortical
asymmetry in favor of the left hemisphere is asso-
ciated with approach motivation, with the ability to
regulate negative emotions, and with general well-
being (Davidson 1993;Jacksonetal.2003;Urryetal.
2004; Balconi and Mazza 2010;Harmon-Jonesetal.
2010). Starting from this evidence, they explored rest-
ing intracortical activity during social threat and found
that participants with higher resting activity in the
left vs. right DLPFC cortex exhibited more adaptive,
approach-oriented cardiovascular stress responses.
at light of two other core components, that are the
approach attitude construct (BAS) and the internal
LoC. Indeed, it was observed that personality approach
attitude (high-BAS) was able to modulate brain activ-
ity, social ranking perception, and cognitive perfor-
mance. In addition, the lateralization eect was also
conrmed in the case of high-BAS with higher left
PFC mainly post-feedback reinforce. These results
valid’ and immutable phenomenon; rather, perception
of our own ranking, particularly during conditions of
cooperation with others, may be directly and strongly
related with personality approach-related component.
This is in line with previous studies (Demaree 2005),
which reported that those individuals with a higher
nant and ‘proactive’ character in situations which were
shown to induce a positive eect, while those with
a higher BIS sensitivity were more inclined to relate
to the submissive and passive character, inducing a
negative eect. This raises the possibility that our per-
sonalities and our subjective comprehension of social
hierarchies may interact to impact our social success
and sense of well-being. Furthermore, it is possible
that high-BAS more than low-BAS implicitly assessed
their own (self-referential) social hierarchical status in
relation to the task they performed, with particular
respect to increased social ecacy perception. It is also
possible that the improved self-perception of ranking
(induced by the external feedback) may have intro-
duced a reinforcing cue able to signicantly modify the
behavioral performance (Chiao 2010).
signicance of the BAS component, higher BAS sub-
jects may be more attentive to conditions that pro-
duce a signicant positive reinforce, and that reinforce
the behaviors which are active in nature, ingenerat-
ing positive emotions, and positive self-perception of
approaching attitude (Balconi et al. 2009b), as shown
in previous research which has used a non-social con-
dition (Balconi and Pagani 2014,2015). As observed
in the present research, this eect could be valid and
consistent also when a social task was provided. Thus,
in line with our previous hypotheses, we observed
in higher BAS subjects a prevalence in responding
to approach condition that includes a positive joint-
action. This result is consistent with prior research
showing that social status is associated with greater
BAS during the processing of cooperative situations.
More generally we have to consider the extent to
which individuals of higher-BAS are more proactive
in achieving their outcomes when a cooperative goal
is to be obtained (Magee and Galinsky 2008;Pothos
and Busemeyer 2009). By virtue of having relatively a
greater proactive attitude, they must rely more on their
resources to meet their needs (Kraus et al. 2009).
In addition, a specic lateralization eect was found
for high-BAS, mainly in response to positive post-
feedback condition. These results are in line with some
previous studies which demonstrated that high corti-
cal left unbalance is related to approach-related condi-
tions, with higher prevalence of high-frequency oscil-
and Mazza 2010). It is possible to explain this lat-
eralization eect pointing out that approach attitude,
generally associated to increased left PFC responsive-
ness, is able per se to aect both the self-perception
of ecacy and cooperativeness and, consequently, the
subjects’ real performance. Indeed, we may state that a
more consistent approach-attitude and positive moti-
vation may support a concomitant left-side hyper-
activation which supports the self-representation of
an increased social ranking in cooperative contexts,
with an improved real cognitive performance. Never-
theless, the role of BAS was not able in absolute to
explain the present results, since we had a signicant
generalized higher left-hemisphere activity also inde-
the ‘basic’ left-lateralized BAS eect due to approach
attitude might not exhaustively explain the increased
eect found in post-feedback condition, with higher
left DLPFC activity as a consequence of positive rein-
forcing for cooperative actions. Future research should
better consider the specic role of BAS and left DLPFC
area in describing the cooperative behavior.
Also, LoC aects DLPFC activity, as well as both
the real increased performance and the self-perception
as pointed out by correlational analysis. That is, the
BAS signicance was paralleled by LoC eect, with
increased self-ecacy perception in the case of high-
LoC. Whereas this result was not unattended based
on the main conceptual components of internal LoC
(which is normally related to increased sense of e-
cacy), the innovative eect of the present research was
linked to the strength association between high level
of internal LoC and social ranking perception dur-
ing a cooperative interaction. Indeed, previously it was
argued the concepts of LoC, generalized self-ecacy
and self-esteem measured the same, single factor and
demonstrated them to be related concepts (Judge et al.
2002). However, here we more directly considered the
social variant of self-ecacy tested in cooperatively
joint condition. Indeed, not only the sense of social
inuent to determine the specic perception of an
increased social status and social ranking in term of
high level joint-performance. Therefore, we can state
that both the sense of self-ecacy and social posi-
tion were determined by internal LoC with signicant
impact on the eective cognitive outcomes. In addi-
tion, in previous experiments, it was found that inter-
nal LoC subjects played signicantly more coopera-
tively than external LoC (Boone et al. 1999a,1999b).
However, it was observed that this dierence could
not be the result of ‘internals’ being more altruistic,
but rather of their tendency to use behavior strategi-
cally in order to control their environment to obtain
cooperatively, on average, because it furthers their self-
interest. They have to understand that, in the long run,
cooperation is in their self-interest. In fact, they read-
appropriate to obtain a higher payo. It can be sug-
gested that internal LoC subjects, who believe in their
own potency to control and modify their environment,
are much more likely than external LoC subjects to
surrounding world as this heightens the probability of
successfully regulating behavior.
It is also hypothesizable that internal LoC sub-
might be more attentive to cues and feedback rele-
vant to their decisional processes because they believe
this may improve their performance. All these provide
strong support for the validity of LoC construct as it
is indicative of a basic striving of internal individu-
als to actively engage in the seeking for relevant cues
in their environment to determine their social posi-
tion and social perception, and to guide or adapt their
behavior accordingly.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that, contrarily to
BAS construct, no lateralization eect was revealed in
concomitance to high-LoC. Indeed, a more general-
ized DLPFC activity was observed post-feedback con-
dition compared with pre-feedback, without a specic
left-lateralization. Therefore, we may state that the spe-
cic hemispheric eect we found may be more directly
supported by approach attitude and by BAS compo-
nent, as elucidated by the present results. Secondly,
these evidences more strongly suggest a not complete
overlapping between the two constructs of LoC and
BAS and their partially dierent relationship with the
brain correlates during cooperative actions. It should
be underlined that these dierences may be also related
to the dierent impact that positive feedback has
in relation to BAS and LoC and to how this feed-
back impact on these constructs and, consequently,
on both the performance and the ranking percep-
tion. Indeed, the direct comparison between high-BAS
and high-LoC highlighted the more consistent increas-
ing of social ranking and a better performance for
high-BAS in post-feedback condition. This result may
vated attitude, as represented by high-BAS, produces
the maximal eect on the cooperative context, maxi-
mizing both the subjective performance and the self-
representation of social position. Nevertheless, future
research should better elucidate this important point.
In addition, a tentative explanation of the main
role exercised by both BAS and LoC may be summa-
rized taking into consideration the underlying con-
cept of core self-evaluation (CSE, Judge et al. 1997).
CSE refers to fundamental assessments that people
make about their worthiness, competence, and capa-
bilities. Recently, it was explored how CSE inu-
ences outcomes (Judge et al. 2004). In this respect,
CSE has been conceptualized as an indicator of high
approach temperament (Judge et al. 1998), orienting
individuals toward seeking positive outcomes, which
subsequently inuence performance and well-being.
In addition, CSE may be conceptualized as a hinge
between approach attitude and LoC as representable
in term of fundamental evaluations that people hold
about themselves and their ability to control and
manage the external forming the basis of their self-
appraisals and self-ecacy.
To summarize the results, this study appears to con-
rm the tendency to modulate both self-perceived
social position and real performance based on the
ity related to alpha frequency band during an inter-
personal cooperative performance which is consid-
ered relevant for social hierarchy. Higher level hier-
archy related to cognitive performance is linked to a
clear increased activity in the DLPFC for high-BAS
and high-LoC subjects, when subjects perceived them-
in relation to both the personality measures. Relevant
eects were observed about the cortical prefrontal
that social status relates to neural activity in the frontal
higher in BAS and LoC. These eects were supported
alpha frequency band, that is, increased brain activ-
ity (reduced alpha power) in response to high-ranking
perception and increased cognitive performance. In
addition, we found that the left-side system – more
related to BAS polarity – accounts for the increased
performance and improved self-perception: BAS sub-
jects showed a more intense response within the left
hemisphere in the case of high reinforced cooperation.
The current research provides initial evidence for this
hypothesis and lays a foundation for future research
examining the extent to which the human brain
selectively processes social dominance cues. Finally,
a signicant and systematic correlation was observed
between these multiple personality and brain mea-
sures. However, LoC and BAS were two interrelated,
but not overlapping, constructs, since more directly
and consistently BAS showed its specicity in term of
a lateralized left network for cooperative joint-action.
Future research should more exhaustively consider
a direct comparison of cooperative task with competi-
tive task, to elucidate the main impact of DLPFC con-
tribution as a function of social contexts in the case of
cooperative vs. non-cooperative joint-actions. In addi-
tion, for future explorations, a more specic cortical
side eect and hemispheric contribution in response
to joint-action should be analyzed with some adjunc-
tive measures, such as neuroimaging. At this regard,
also the specic central of posterior sites response to
cooperation could better explain the full cortical activ-
ity. In addition, a more exhaustive analysis based on
the full brain spectral oscillations could be consid-
ered to better elucidate the functional role of other
frequency bands. Finally, the intrinsic commonalities
cepts should be more deeply evaluated in cooperative
tasks, taking into account the signicant dierences
we observed in relationship with the left-lateralization
experiment and the data analysis. Maria Elide Vanutelli realized
the experiment and the data analysis. All data will be accessible
via web
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Michela Balconi
Balconi M, Bortolotti A, Gonzaga L. 2011.Emotionalface
recognition, EMG response, and medial prefrontal activity
in empathic behaviour. Neurosci Res. 71:251–259.
Balconi M, Brambilla E, Falbo L. 2009a. Appetitive vs. defensive
responses to emotional cues. autonomic measures and brain
oscillation modulation. Brain Res. 1296:72–84.
Balconi M, Brambilla E, Falbo L. 2009b.Bis/BAS,corticaloscil-
lations and coherence in response to emotional cues. Brain
Res Bull. 80:151–157.
Balconi M, Crivelli D, Vanutelli ME. 2017.Whytocooperateis
better than to compete: brain and personality components.
BMC Neurosci. 18:68.
with psychophysiological and cortical response systems dur-
ing aversive and appetitive emotional stimuli processing.
Motiv Emot. 36:218–231.
Balconi M, Mazza G. 2009. Brain oscillations and BIS/BAS
(behavioral inhibition/activation system) eects on process-
ing masked emotional cues. ERS/ERD and coherence mea-
sures of alpha band. Int J Psychophysiol. 74:158–165.
Balconi M, Mazza G. 2010. Lateralisation eect in comprehen-
sion of emotional facial expression: a comparison between
EEG alpha band power and behavioural inhibition (BIS) and
activation (BAS) systems. Laterality. 15:361–384.
Balconi M, Pagani S. 2014. Personality correlates (BAS-BIS),
quency band) modulation in peer-group comparison. Phys-
iol Behav. 133:207–215.
Balconi M, Pagani S. 2015. Social hierarchies and emotions:
cortical prefrontal activity, facial feedback (EMG), and cog-
nitive performance in a dynamic interaction. Soc Neurosci.
Balconi M, Vanutelli ME. 2016. Competition in the brain. The
contribution of EEG and fNIRS modulation and personality
eects in social ranking. Front Psychol. 7:1587.
Balconi M, Vanutelli ME. 2017. Interbrains cooperation: hyper-
scanning and self-perception in joint actions. J Clin Exp
Neuropsychol. 39:607–620.
Bechara A, Damasio H, Damasio AR, Lee GP. 1999. Dif-
ferent contributions of the human amygdala and ventro-
medial prefrontal cortex to decision-making. J Neurosci.
Bechara A, Martin EM. 2004. Impaired decision making related
to working memory decits in individuals with substance
addictions. Neuropsychology. 18:152–162.
Depression Inventory – II. San Antonio: Psychological Cor-
Blau G. 1993. Testing the relationship of locus of control to
dierent performance dimensions. J Occup Organ Psychol.
Boksem MAS, Smolders R, Cremer DD. 2012.Socialpowerand
approach-related neural activity. Soc Cogn Aect Neurosci.
Boone C, De Brabander B, Carree M, De Jong G, van Olen W,
van Witteloostuijn A. 2002.Locusofcontrolandlearning
to cooperate in a prisoner’s dilemma game. Personal Individ
Dier. 32:929–946.
of control and strategic behaviour in a prisoner’s dilemma
game. Personal Individ Dier. 27:695–706.
impact of personality on behavior in ve Prisoner’s Dilemma
games. J Econ Psychol. 20:343–377.
Carver CS, White TL. 1994. Behavioral inhibition, behavioral
activation, and aective responses to impending reward
and punishment: The BIS/BAS Scales. J Pers Soc Psychol.
Chiao JY. 2010. Neural basis of social status hierarchy across
species. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 20:803–809.
Chiao JY, Adams RBJ, Tse PU, Lowenthal L, Richeson JA,
Ambady N. 2008. Knowing who’s boss: fMRI and ERP inves-
tigations of social dominance perception. Gr Process Intergr
Relations. 11:201–214.
Chia o J Y, Harada T, O b y E R , L i Z , Pa r ris h T, B r i d g e D J. 2009.
inferior parietal cortex. Neuropsychologia. 47:354–363.
Chung D, Yun K, Jeong J. 2015.Decodingcovertmotiva-
tions of free riding and cooperation from multi-feature pat-
tern analysis of EEG signals. Soc Cogn Aect Neurosci.
Craig AR, Franklin JA, Andrews G. 1984.Ascaletomea-
sure locus of control of behaviour. Psychol Psychother.
Cui X, Bryant DM, Reiss AL. 2012. NIRS-based hyperscanning
reveals increased interpersonal coherence in superior frontal
cortex during cooperation. Neuroimage. 59:2430–2437.
Davidson RJ. 1992. Emotion and aective style: hemispheric
substrates. Psychol Sci. 3:39–43.
Davidson RJ. 1993. Cerebral asymmetry and emotion: con-
ceptual and methodological conundrums. Cogn Emot.
Davidson RJ. 2004. What does the prefrontal cortex ‘do’ in
aect: perspectives on frontal EEG asymmetry research. Biol
Psychol. 67:219–234.
1990. Approach-withdrawal and cerebral asymmetry: emo-
tional expression and brain physiology. I. J Pers Soc Psychol.
Demaree HA. 2005. Brain lateralization of emotional process-
ing: historical roots and a future incorporating ‘dominance’.
Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev. 4:3–20.
Defecting or not defecting: how to ‘read’ human behavior
during cooperative games by EEG measurements. PLoS One.
Dötsch D, Schubö A. 2015. Social categorization and cooper-
ation in motor joint action: evidence for a joint end-state
comfort. Exp Brain Res. 233:2323–2334.
Farma T, Cortinovis I. 2000.Unquestionariosul‘locusof
control’: suo utilizzo nel contesto italiano. Ric Psicoter.
Woodru PWR, Hunter MD, Spence SA. 2011.Higher
or lower? The functional anatomy of perceived allocentric
social hierarchies. Neuroimage. 57:1552–1560.
Festinger L. 1954. A theory of social comparison processes.
Hum Relations. 7:117–140.
Fowles DC. 2000. Electrodermal hyporeactivity and antisocial
behavior: does anxiety mediate the relationship? J Aect
Disord. 61:177–189.
shapes a mesolimbic response to signals of dominance and
subordination that associates with behavior. Neuroimage.
H. 2011. Synchronous activity of two people’s prefrontal cor-
tices during a cooperative task measured by simultaneous
near-infrared spectroscopy. J Biomed Opt. 16:077011.
Gable SL, Reis HT, Elliot AJ. 2000. Behavioral activation and
inhibition in everyday life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 78:1135–
Goldman M, Stockbauer JW, McAulie TG. 1977.Intergroup
and intragroup competition and cooperation. J Exp Soc
Psychol. 13:81–88.
Gray JA. 1987. The neuropsychology of emotion and person-
ality. In: Stahl S.M., Iversen S.D., Goodman E.C., editor.
Cognitive neurochemistry. Oxford: Oxford University Press;
p. 171–190.
Gray JA. 1990. Brain systems that mediate both emotion and
cognition. Cogn Emot. 4:269–288.
Gray JA. 1994.Frameworkforataxonomyofpsychiatricdis-
order. In: Van Goozen S.H.M., Van de Poll N.E., Sergeant
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; p. 29–59.
Gray JA, McNaughton N. 2000. The neuropsychology of anxi-
ety: An enquiry into the functions of the septo-hippocampal
system, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hall JA, Coats EJ, Lebeau LS. 2005. Nonverbal behavior and
the vertical dimension of social relations: a meta-analysis.
Psychol Bull. 131:898–924.
Harmon-Jones E. 2004. On the relationship of frontal brain
activity and anger: examining the role of attitude toward
anger. Cogn Emot. 18:337–361.
Harmon-Jones E, Gable PA, Peterson CK. 2010.Therole
of asymmetric frontal cortical activity in emotion-related
phenomena: a review and update. Biol Psychol. 84:
Haruno M, Kawato M. 2009.Activityinthesuperiortempo-
ral sulcus highlights learning competence in an interaction
game. J Neurosci. 29:4542–4547.
Jackson DC, Mueller CJ, Dolski I, Dalton KM, Nitschke JB,
Urry HL, Rosenkranz Ma, Ry CD, Singer BH, Davidson RJ.
assymetry and individual dierences in emotion regulation.
Psychol Sci. 14:612–617.
Judge TA, Erez A, Bono JE, Thoresen CJ. 2002.Aremeasuresof
self-esteem, neuroticism, locus of control, and generalized
self-ecacy indicators of a common core construct? J Pers
Soc Psychol. 83:693–710.
JudgeTA,LockeEA,DurhamCC.1997. The dispositional
causes of job satisfaction: a core evaluations approach. Res
Organ Behav. 19:151–188.
sitional eects on job and life satisfaction: the role of core
evaluations. J Appl Psychol. 83:17–34.
bility, core self-evaluations, and job outcomes: a review of the
evidence and an agenda for future research. Hum Perform.
Karan MS, Tranel D, Adolphs R. 2004. Dominance attri-
butions following damage to the ventromedial prefrontal
cortex. J Cogn Neurosci. 16:1796–1804.
Koslov K, Mendes WB, Pajtas PE, Pizzagalli DA. 2013.Greater
left resting intracortical activity as a buer to social threat.
Psychol Sci. 22:641–649.
Kramer T, Yoon S. 2007.Approach-avoidancemotivation
and the use of aect as information. J Consum Psychol.
Kraus MW, Pi PK, Keltner D. 2009.Socialclass,senseofcon-
trol, and social explanation. J Pers Soc Psychol. 97:992–1004.
LeoneL,PierroA,MannettiL.2002. Validità della versione
italiana delle scale bis/bas di Carver e White (1994): general-
izzabilità della struttura e relazioni con costrutti ani. G Ital
Psicol. 29:413–434.
Levitan R, Hasey G, Sloman L. 2000. Major depression and the
involuntary defeat strategy: biological correlates. In: Gilbert
P., Sloman L., editor. Subordination and defeat: An evo-
lutionary approach to mood disorders and their therapy.
Manhaw: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; p. 95–120.
Ludwig KA, Miriani RM, Langhals NB, Joseph MD, Ander-
son DJ, Kipke DR. 2009. Using a common average reference
to improve cortical neuron recordings from microelectrode
arrays. J Neurophysiol. 101:1679–1689.
Magee JC, Galinsky AD. 2008. Social hierarchy: the self-
reinforcing nature of power and status. Acad Manag Ann.
Marsh AA, Blair KS, Jones MM, Soliman N, Blair RJR. 2009.
Dominance and submission: the ventrolateral prefrontal
cortex and responses to status cues. J Cogn Neurosci.
Montague P. 2002. Hyperscanning: simultaneous fMRI during
linked social interactions. Neuroimage. 16:1159–1164.
Munafò MR, Clark T, Flint J. 2005. Does measurement instru-
ment moderate the association between the serotonin trans-
porter gene and anxiety-related personality traits? A meta-
analysis. Mol Psychiatry. 10:415–419.
Oostenveld R, Praamstra P. 2001.Thevepercentelectrode
system for high-resolution EEG and ERP measurements.
Clin Neurophysiol. 112:713–719.
Pfurtscheller G. 1992. Event-related synchronization (ERS): an
electrophysiological correlate of cortical areas at rest. Elec-
troencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 83:62–69.
Pothos EM, Busemeyer JR. 2009.Aquantumprobabilityexpla-
nation for violations of ’rational’ decision theory. Proc R Soc
B Biol Sci. 276:2171–2178.
Rotter JB. 1966. Generalized expectancies for internal ver-
sus external control of reinforcement. Psychol Monogr Gen
Appl. 80:1–28.
Sapolsky RM. 2004. Social status and health in humans and
other animals. Annu Rev Anthropol. 33:393–418.
Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene RE, Vagg PR, Jacobs GA.
1970. STAI manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Strauser DR, Ketz K, Keim J. 2002.Therelationshipbetween
self-ecacy, locus of control and work personality. J Rehabil.
Sutton SK, Davidson RJ. 1997.Prefrontalbrainasymmetry:a
biological substrate of the behavioral approach and inhibi-
tion systems. Psychol Sci. 8:204–210.
Suzuki S, Niki K, Fujisaki S, Akiyama E. 2011.Neuralbasis
of conditional cooperation. Soc Cogn Aect Neurosci.
Tomarken AJ, Davidson RJ, Wheeler RE, Kinney L. 1992.Psy-
chometric properties of resting anterior EEG asymmetry:
temporal stability and internal consistency. Psychophysiol-
ogy 29:576–592.
Urry HL, Nitschke JB, Dolski I, Jackson DC, Dalton KM,
Mueller CJ, Rosenkranz Ma, Ry CD, Singer BH, David-
son RJ. 2004. Making a life worth living. Neural correlates
of well-being. Psychol Sci. 15:367–372.
Yu AJ, Dayan P. 2005.Uncertainty,neuromodulation,and
attention. Neuron. 46:681–692.
lindenberg A. 2008. Know your place: neural processing of
social hierarchy in humans. Neuron. 58:273–283.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Background Cooperation and competition were compared in the present study. Brain correlates (electroencephalography, EEG frequency band, delta, theta, alpha, and beta) and hemodynamic measure of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS, O2Hb) were acquired during a joined cooperative (Experiment 1) or competitive (Experiment 2) task. Subjects were required to match each other’s cognitive performance (cooperation) or to make better than others (competition) in terms of accuracy (error rate, ER) and response time (RT). In addition, a personality trait measure (behavioral activation system, BAS) was used to distinguish subjects based on their rewarding attitude. Self-perception of social ranking and real performance were considered in response to subjects’ performance (that was artificially manipulated to show an increasing or decreasing profile during the task). Results An increased left prefrontal cortical (PFC) responsiveness was found for subjects who had higher BAS rating in case of both cooperation and competition conditions. Moreover, subjects with higher BAS ratings showed greater frontal left activity during the cooperative task. These subjects also concomitantly perceived an increasing in social ranking and improved their performance. Conclusions Present results demonstrated that some trait components (BAS) and cooperative condition induce a positive self-representation in term of ranking and a best way to perform the task, as underlined by self-perception and cognitive outcomes. Indeed the higher BAS trait proved to be related with the representation of higher social ranking and with the perception of improved cognitive outcomes, with also a significant increased left PFC activity in cooperative contexts.
Full-text available
In the present study, the social ranking perception in competition was explored. Brain response (alpha band oscillations, EEG; hemodynamic activity, O2Hb), as well as self-perception of social ranking, cognitive performance, and personality trait (Behavioral Activation System, BAS) were considered during a competitive joint-action. Subjects were required to develop a strategy to obtain a better outcome than a competitor (C) (in term of error rate, and response time, RT). A pre-feedback (without a specific feedback on the performance) and a post-feedback condition (which reinforced the improved performance) were provided. It was found that higher-BAS participants responded in greater measure to perceived higher cognitive performance (post-feedback condition), with increased left prefrontal activity, higher ranking perception, and a better real performance (reduced RTs). These results were explained in term of increased sense of self-efficacy and social position, probably based on higher-BAS sensitivity to reinforcing conditions. In addition, the hemispheric effect in favor of the left side characterized the competitive behavior, showing an imbalance for high-BAS in comparison to low-BAS in the case of a rewarding (post-feedback) context. Therefore, the present results confirmed the significance of BAS in modulating brain responsiveness, self-perceived social position, and real performance during an interpersonal competitive action which is considered highly relevant for social status.
Individuals often rely on their affect for information. However, positive or negative affect may not be informative for individuals who are more prone to feel affect of this particular valence in general, unless they chronically monitor their internal states. A series of studies demonstrates that differences in individuals’ internal versus external focus of attention and in trait affective valence associated with their approach versus avoidance motivation determine reliance on affect as information. Specifically, our findings show that while positive affect is used as an input in product satisfaction judgments regardless of individuals’ approach versus avoidance motivation, negative affect is used only by individuals with a predominant approach motivation.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the neural bases of cooperative behaviors and social self-perception underlying the execution of joint actions by using a hyperscanning brain paradigm with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We firstly found that an artificial positive feedback on the cognitive performance was able to affect the self-perception of social position and hierarchy (higher social ranking) for the dyad, as well as the cognitive performance (decreased error rate, ER, and response times, RTs). In addition, the shared cognitive strategy was concurrently improved within the dyad after this social reinforcing. Secondly, fNIRS measures revealed an increased brain activity in the postfeedback condition for the dyad. Moreover, an interbrain similarity was found for the dyads during the task, with higher coherent prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity for the interagents in the postfeedback condition. Finally, a significant prefrontal brain lateralization effect was revealed, with the left hemisphere being more engaged during the postfeedback condition. To summarize, the self-perception, the cognitive performance, and the shared brain activity were all reinforced by the social feedback within the dyad.
The purpose of this study was to examine Hershenson's theory of work adjustment by examining the relationship between work personality and work competencies. Specifically, this study examined the theoretical link and the reciprocal effect between the domains of work personality and work competencies, and the impact of certain demographic variables on work personality and work competencies. Participants included 104 job placement service recipients in a large Southern urban area. Findings showed that higher levels of work personality predicted an internal locus of control and higher job-related self-efficacy. The number of jobs a person had held was correlated with work personality and work persistence was correlated with education. Findings also indicated that individuals whose parents/guardians worked while they were growing up had more internalized locus of control. Results are discussed in light of current literature.
Joint effects of daily events and dispositional sensitivities to cues of reward and punishment on daily positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) were examined in 3 diary studies. Study 1 showed that positive events were strongly related to PA but not NA, whereas negative events were strongly related to NA but not PA. Studies 2 and 3 examined how the dispositional sensitivities of independent appetitive and aversive motivational systems, the Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS), moderated these relationships. Participants in Study 2 with higher BAS sensitivity reported more PA on average; those with more sensitive BIS reported more NA. Also, BIS moderated reactions to negative events, such that higher BIS sensitivity magnified reactions to negative events. Study 3 replicated these findings and showed that BAS predisposed people to experience more positive events. Results demonstrate the value of distinguishing within-person and between-person effects to clarify the functionally independent processes by which dispositional sensitivities influence affect.