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Following the Crowd: Brain Substrates of Long-Term Memory Conformity


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Human memory is strikingly susceptible to social influences, yet we know little about the underlying mechanisms. We examined how socially induced memory errors are generated in the brain by studying the memory of individuals exposed to recollections of others. Participants exhibited a strong tendency to conform to erroneous recollections of the group, producing both long-lasting and temporary errors, even when their initial memory was strong and accurate. Functional brain imaging revealed that social influence modified the neuronal representation of memory. Specifically, a particular brain signature of enhanced amygdala activity and enhanced amygdala-hippocampus connectivity predicted long-lasting but not temporary memory alterations. Our findings reveal how social manipulation can alter memory and extend the known functions of the amygdala to encompass socially mediated memory distortions.
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DOI: 10.1126/science.1203557
, 108 (2011);333 Science , et al.Micah Edelson
Following the Crowd: Brain Substrates of Long-Term Memory
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Following the Crowd: Brain Substrates
of Long-Term Memory Conformity
Micah Edelson,
*Tali Sharot,
Raymond J. Dolan,
Yadin Dudai
Human memory is strikingly susceptible to social influences, yet we know little about the
underlying mechanisms. We examined how socially induced memory errors are generated in the
brain by studying the memory of individuals exposed to recollections of others. Participants exhibited a
strong tendency to conform to erroneous recollections of the group, producing both long-lasting
and temporary errors, even when their initial memory was strong and accurate. Functional brain
imaging revealed that social influence modified the neuronal representation of memory. Specifically,
a particular brain signature of enhanced amygdala activity and enhanced amygdala-hippocampus
connectivity predicted long-lasting but not temporary memory alterations. Our findings reveal
how social manipulation can alter memory and extend the known functions of the amygdala to
encompass socially mediated memory distortions.
Our memories are often inaccurate. Ubiq-
uitous sources of false recollection are
social pressure and interpersonal influ-
ence (14). This phenomenon, dubbed memory
conformity(4), is encountered in a variety of
contexts, including social interactions, mass me-
dia exposure, and eyewitness testimony. In such
settings an individual may change veridical re-
collections of past events to match a false ac-
count provided by others (16). Although these
social influences on memory have been exten-
sively demonstrated (15), the underlying neuro-
biology of this process is unknown.
Conformity may present in two forms, which
initially convey similar explicit behavior but are
fundamentally different (7,8). In one type, known
as private conformity, an individuals recollec-
tion may genuinely be altered by social influ-
ence, resulting in long-lasting, persistent memory
errors (1,4,5,7). In such circumstances, even
when social influence is removed, the individ-
uals will persist in claiming an erroneous mem-
ory as part of their own experience (7,9). Private
conformity could hence be considered a bona fide
memory change. In the second type, known as
public conformity, individuals may choose to out-
wardly comply, providing an account that fits
that of others, but inwardly maintain certitude
in their own original memory. Public conformity
can be dispelled when the veracity of the socially
transferred information abates (7,10,11). Thus,
errors induced by public conformity are tran-
sient (7,9) and appear to represent a change in
behavior in the absence of lasting alterations to
a memory engram.
Although private and public memory con-
formity are often behaviorally indistinguishable,
they reflect different cognitive processes (7,8).
These processes are probably mediated by dis-
tinct activation in interconnected brain circuits
previously found to be active in mnemonic func-
tions and social cognition (such as the hippo-
campal complex, amygdala, and frontal regions)
(1218). Here, we set out to characterize the brain
mechanisms that lead to both types of conformity.
Our experimental protocol included four phases
spanning a 2-week period (Fig. 1A). Thirty adult
participants (12 females, age 28.6 T0.8, mean T
SEM) viewed an eyewitness-style documentary
on a large screen in groups of five. Three days
after viewing, participants returned to the lab in-
dividually and completed a memory test (test 1).
Test 1 served to assess the participantsbaseline
accuracy and confidence before the manipulation
stage. Four days later, participants returned to the
lab and answered the same memory questions
while being scanned with functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI) (test 2). On this oc-
casion, a manipulation was introduced in an
attempt to induce conformity.
Before responding during this test, partici-
pants were presented with answers they were
led to believe were given by their four fellow co-
observers, whose photographs were provided
with their corresponding answers (Fig. 1A). In
a subset of trials, for which the target participant
originally had a confident veridical memory (as
identified by test 1), the answers provided by
the four co-observes were all false (manipulation
condition, 80 questions). In matched control trials,
the letter X was presented instead of the co-
observersanswers (no-manipulation condition,
25 questions). Pilot data indicated that the use
of manipulation and no-manipulation conditions
alone would raise suspicion in the participants
minds that the answers given by the co-observers
were fabricated. Therefore we added credibility
trials in which different patterns of co-observer
answers were provided (Fig. 1B).
One week later, the participants returned
to the lab and were informed that the answers
given by the co-observers during the previous
fMRI session were in fact determined random-
ly. This rendered the socially conveyed infor-
mation previously provided as uninformative.
The participants were then requested to com-
plete the memory test again (test 3) based on
their original memory of the movie. Finally, the
participants were debriefed. Participants with
excessive head movements in the scanner or
suspected brain pathology and those that indi-
cated suspicion of the manipulation were ex-
cluded from the analysis, resulting in a final
number of participants (N) = 20.
Our behavioral data revealed that our manip-
ulation induced memory errors (Fig. 2A). Strik-
ingly, participants conformed to the majority
opinion in 68.3 T2.9% of manipulation trials,
giving a false answer to questions they had pre-
viously answered correctly with relatively high
confidence. This was not due to forgetting, be-
cause in the no-manipulation condition, incorrect
answers were given in only 15.5 T1.7% of the
questions [Studentsttest (df 19) = 16.9, P<10
When social influence was removed (test 3), par-
ticipants reverted to their original correct answer
in 59.2 T2.3% of the previously conformed trials
(transient errors) but maintained erroneous an-
swers in 40.8% (persistent errors). Confidence
ratings in persistent and transient errors did not
differ either before or after the manipulation stage
(Fig. 2B). During the manipulation stage, con-
fidence ratings in transient errors were signifi-
cantly lower than in persistent errors [t(19) = 6.9,
]. Differences in confidence levels were
controlled for in the fMRI analysis by means of a
covariate [supporting online material (SOM)].
Our brain imaging data indicated that at
the time of exposure to social influence, distinct
brain signatures characterized instances of mem-
ory conformity that would result in persistent
and transient errors. We first performed analysis
on a priori anatomically defined regions of in-
terest (ROIs) selected by virtue of being widely
implicated in memory encoding and maintenance
(the bilateral anterior hippocampus, bilateral pos-
terior hippocampus, and bilateral parahippocam-
pal gyrus) and in social-emotional processing
(bilateral amygdala) (1225). Brain activity was
averaged across all voxels in each ROI for the
three conditions of interest (persistent errors, tran-
sient errors, and instances when participants
did not conform to the erroneous information;
i.e., nonconformity). In all regions, except for the
left posterior hippocampus, the blood oxygen
leveldependent (BOLD) signal was greater
during trials that subsequently resulted in persist-
ent memory errors relative to trials that resulted in
transient errors or nonconformity (Fig. 3A). No
significant difference was found between transient
error and nonconformity trials in these regions.
To examine whether other brain regions dif-
ferentiate between persistent and transient errors,
we conducted a whole-brain exploratory analy-
sis. Greater activity during trials resulting in per-
sistent errors versus trials resulting in transient
errors was found in four regions, all in the medial
temporal lobe (MTL, Fig. 3B): the left amygdala
(22,8,10), right hippocampus (28,22,12),
right parahippocampal gyrus (PHG, 36,48,10),
and a region bordering the left PHG and occipital
Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science,
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of
Neurology, University College London, London, UK.
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:
1 JULY 2011 VOL 333 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org108
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cortex (22,54,10), [P< 0.001, cluster thresh-
old (k) > 10]. In the opposite comparison (transient
versus persistent errors), enhanced activation was
found in the bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate cor-
tex (ACC, Brodmann area 32; 12,22,42; 8,20,46).
A striking activation in both aforementioned
analyses was found in the left amygdala. A be-
havioral control study (SOM) indicated that el-
evated activation in the amygdala during trials
that resulted in persistent errors was not due to
heightened emotional arousal during these trials.
Nor were these errors related to questions asso-
ciated with greater emotional content. Rather,
heightened amygdala activation seemed specific
to socially induced memory change.
The amygdala plays a key role in social and
emotional processing and modulates memory-
related hippocampal activity (1323). It is strate-
gically placed for this function, having rich
anatomical connections with the hippocampal
complex (the anterior hippocampus in particular)
as well as with neocortical areas (1316,23,26).
The amygdala is thus a prime candidate for
mediating social effects on memory, most likely
involving its interactions with other brain re-
gions (13,14). This consideration motivated us
to carry out a functional connectivity analysis,
using a psychophysiological interaction (PPI) ap-
proach (27). This analysis showed heightened
functional connectivity between the left amyg-
dala and bilateral anterior hippocampus within
anatomically defined ROIs, during trials that sub-
sequently resulted in persistent memory errors as
opposed to transient errors and nonconformity
(Fig. 4A).
We also sought to identify which brain re-
gions responded to the information presented
by the co-observers (SOM). To this end, trials in
which misleading information was presented
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
2 sec
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
2.5 sec
Protocol B Experimental conditions
2.5 sec
self paced
2 sec
3 sec
Self paced
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
Arrest a
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
(correct answer = arrest a child)
What did the policeman do?
1) Arrest a child 2) Arrest a man
Arrest a
Arrest a
arrest a
How confident are you
in your answer ?
Guess Low
Medium High Absolute
Movie (day 0)
Test 1 (day 3)
Test 2 (day 7)
memory prior to
social manipulation
in scanner
Test 3 (day 14)
detection of persistent and
transient errors
in scanner
Fig. 1. Experimental outline. (A) Participants viewed the movie in groups
of five and subsequently performed three memory tests individually. Test
1 served to assess the participantsinitial memory and confidence before
the social manipulation administered in test 2. Test 3 served to identify
memory errors that persisted after the social manipulation was removed.
For the test 2 scanning session, the question and possible answers were
presented for 2.5 s, followed by the fabricated co-observersanswers for
2.5 s. Subsequently, a font color change indicated that the participants were
allowed to respond. Finally, confidence ratings were provided. (B)Illustration
of the different experimental conditions: the manipulation condition in which
all co-observersanswers were incorrect, the no-manipulation condition in
which the letter X was displayed instead of co-observersanswers, and the
credibility condition in which variable patterns of co-observersanswers were
displayed (SOM). SCIENCE VOL 333 1 JULY 2011 109
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(the manipulation condition) were contrasted with
the no-manipulation condition. Five regions (fig.
S1A) were identified in the frontal and occipital
cortex. Further analysis of brain activity in these
regions (fig. S1B) suggests that they are involved
in non-mnemonic processes, such as conflict
monitoring (2831) in the face of competing
memories (3234).
Were our findings driven merely by the pre-
sentation of additional information regardless of
social context? To answer this question, we per-
formed a control fMRI experiment using a non-
social medium to convey misinformation (SOM).
Participants underwent a similar protocol to that
of our main experiment. However, in memory test
2, instead of receiving answers from co-observers,
participants were told that the information origi-
nated from four different computer algorithms,
a common technique used to control for social
effects (30). Conformity in this case was signifi-
cantly lower (45.3 T4.7%) than in the social
manipulation described earlier (68.3 T2.9%) but
significantly higher than with no manipulation
at all (15.0 T2.4%) [t(38) = 4.2 and t(19) = 5.7,
respectively; P< 0.0002)].
Analysis of BOLD signal in the a priori
MTL ROIs revealed an interaction between mem-
ory (persistent errors and transient errors) and
experimental manipulation (social and nonsocial)
in the bilateral amygdala (P< 0.05). This inter-
action was driven by greater activation in trials
resulting in persistent memory errors relative to
transient errors in the social manipulation, but not in
the nonsocial manipulation (Fig. 3A). These re-
sults suggest that enhanced activity in these regions
is related specifically to socially induced persistent
memory errors. In contrast, the right anterior and
posterior hippocampus and left PHG revealed a
main effect of memory (P<0.05),wheretherewas
greater activity during trials resulting in persistent
relative to transient errors regardless of manipu-
lation type (P<0.05)(Fig.3A).Thus,theBOLD
signal in these regions was associated with long-
lasting memory errors irrespective of the medium
by which information was conveyed. Results of
a functional connectivity analysis between the
left amygdala and bilateral anterior hippocam-
pus showed a significant interaction (P<0.05).
Heightened connectivity was seen during trials that
resulted in persistent errors relative to transient
errors, a pattern specific to the social manipulation
(Fig. 4B). Our control experiments results hence
indicate that heightened amygdala activation and
enhanced connectivity with the hippocampus are
specific to socially induced memory changes,
whereas hippocampal complex activation differ-
entiates between persistent and transient errors
regardless of the source of influence.
Our results indicate that memory is highly
susceptible to alteration due to social influence,
creating both transient and persistent errors.After
over a century of intensive behavioral research
into social influences on memory (35), this study
now provides a brain account of this phenome-
non. Our findings suggest a mechanism by which
social influence produces long-lasting alterations
in memory, and they highlight the critical role of
the amygdala in mediating this influence.
Although at the time of social influence on
memory overt behavior was indistinguishable,
transient and persistent errors nevertheless in-
Test 2
manipulation Test Test Test Test
Test 3
Test 1
123 123 123 123
% Error
Persistent error
Transient error
Fig. 2. Behavioral results. (A) Conformity level in the social manipulation condition was 68.3% versus 15.5%
in the no-manipulation condition [t(19) = 16.9, P<10
]. In test 3, participants reverted back to their original
correct answer in 59.2% of the previously conformed-to events (transient errors) and on 40.8% maintained
their erroneous answer (persistent memory error). The error rate was significantly different in test 3 between the
manipulation and no-manipulation conditions [ t(19) = 3.7, P< 0.002]. The questions included in the
manipulation and no-manipulation trials were those for which participants gave correct answers in test
1 with medium-high confidence. (B) Confidence ratings over time for differential trial types (*P<0.002).
0.15 ** **
0.15 **
0.15 **
0.15 ****
L amyg
R ant hipp L ant hipp
R amyg
R ant hipp
ABPredetermined ROIs Whole brain
L amyg
y = -4
L amyg
R hipp
x = 28
z = -6
Transient errors Persistent errorsNon-conformity
Fig. 3. MTL activation during manipulation predicts long-term socially induced memory errors. (A)BOLD
signal in anatomically a priori defined MTL regions. L, left; R, right; In the social manipulation, enhanced
activation was found during trials that subsequently resulted in persistent errors relative to all other con-
ditions in the bilateral hippocampal complex and amygdala. In the nonsocial manipulation, this pattern was
evident in the hippocampal complex but not in the bilateral amygdala. (B) Whole-brain exploratory analysis
in the social manipulation (P<0.001,k> 10) revealed greater activity in persistent error versus transient
error conditions in the left amygdala, right hippocampus, right PHG, and left PHG bordering on the
occipital lobe. All areas also survived small volume correction for multiple comparisons (familywise
error < 0.05). The baseline in all figures is the no-manipulation condition (*P< 0.05 **P< 0.005).
on July 5, 2011www.sciencemag.orgDownloaded from
duced distinct brain signatures. Heightened acti-
vation in the hippocampal complex was seen
when false information induced a long-lasting
change in the participantsmemories regardless
of social context. The hippocampal complex ac-
tivation we observed may represent a process
of reconsolidation (36) or encoding of new stable
representations [e.g., gist (37)]. In contrast, tran-
sient changes did not activate areas known to
be crucial for memory processing. Our findings
provide neurobiological evidence for the classic
assertion that private conformity is accompanied
by actual changes in beliefs, whereas public dis-
plays of conformity are not (7,8,10, 38).
Enhanced activation in the bilateral amygdala
and heightened functional connectivity with the
anterior hippocampus were a signature of long-
term memory change induced by the social envi-
ronment. This indicates that the incorporation
of external social information into memory may
involve the amygdalas intercedence, in accord-
ance with its special position at the crossroads
of social cognition and memory (13,14,16).
Multiple formal models have proposed
trace attributes that might contribute to mem-
ory distortion in different false memory protocols
(37, 3941). These postulated attributes refer, for
example, to potential heterogeneity in episodic
content and the persistence of memory trace el-
ements. Our laboratory analog to socially induced
memory distortion was not intended to distinguish
between specific models. However, further ex-
ploitation of our protocol, combined with cross-
fertilization of behavioral and brain data, might
contribute to the refinement of current models
and better understanding of the biological and
cognitive mechanisms of memory conformity.
Altering memory in response to group in-
fluence may produce untoward effects. For ex-
ample, social influence such as false propaganda
can deleteriously affect individualsmemory in
political campaigns and commercial advertising
(1,2,6) and impede justice by influencing eye-
witness testimony (2,4, 5). However, memory
conformity may also serve an adaptive purpose,
because social learning is often more efficient
and accurate than individual learning (42). For
this reason, humans may be predisposed to trust
the judgment of the group, even when it stands
in opposition to their own original beliefs. Such
influences and their long-term effects, the neu-
robiological basis of which we describe here,
may contribute to the extraordinary levels of per-
sistent conformity seen in authoritarian cults and
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Acknowledgments: M.E. was supported by a Weizmann
InstituteUK Grant. T.S. is supported by a British Academy
Postdoctoral Fellowship. R.J.D is supported by a Wellcome
Trust Program Grant. Y.D. is supported by the Nella and
Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases. We thank
A. Ben-Yakov, J. G. Edelson, T. Fitzgerald, O. Furman,
S. Fleming, D. Levi, M. Guitart-Masip, A. Mendelsohn,
U. Nili, A. Pine, J. S. Winston, and N. Wright for helpful
comments and the support teams of the Norman and
Helen Asher Center for Brain Imaging at the Weizmann
Institute and the Imaging Neuroscience & Theoretical
Neurobiology unit in the Wellcome Trust Center for
Supporting Online Material
Materials and Methods
Fig. S1
Table S1
31 January 2011; accepted 12 May 2011
Fig. 4. Amygdala-hippo-
campal functional connec-
tivity during manipulation
predicts long-term social-
ly induced memory errors.
(A) Social manipulation.
Functional connectivity be-
tween the left amygdala
and bilateral anterior hip-
pocampus was heightened
in the persistent error con-
dition relative to all other
conditions. (B)Nonsocial
manipulation. No condition-
dependent difference in
functional connectivity be-
tween the left amygdala
and bilateral anterior hip-
pocampus was found. The
baseline in all figures is the
no-manipulation condition (*P< 0.05). The inset depicts the anatomical ROIs used in the aforementioned
0.8 **
0.8 **
L ant hipp & L amyg R ant hipp & L amyg
L ant hipp & L amyg R ant hipp & L amyg
Transient errors Persistent errorsNon-conformity SCIENCE VOL 333 1 JULY 2011 111
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... O papel das influências normativa e informacional na conformidade de memória foi demonstrado repetidas vezes. Infere-se que a conformidade ocorreu devido a influência normativa quando um participante segue o confederado de forma pública, mas reverte sua resposta para a resposta original de forma privada (Edelson et al., 2011). Indivíduos com maior medo de avaliação social negativa tendem a mostrar maior conformidade (Wright et al., 2010), enquanto que indivíduos com maior tendência a evitar interações sociais tendem a mostrar menor conformidade , padrão de resultados consistente com a hipótese de influência normativa na magnitude do efeito. ...
... A influência normativa também tende a ser maior quando as consequências de se cometer um erro de memória são baixas (Baron et al., 1996). Em termos neurobiológicos, a conformidade por influência normativa tem sido associada à maior ativação em circuitos cerebrais envolvidos na detecção de conflito de informações (córtex cingulado anterior; Deuker et al., 2013;Edelson et al., 2011) e à ação do hormônio ocitocina (Edelson et al., 2015). ...
... Estudos de neuroimagem apontam maior ativação do hipocampo em situações indicativas de distorção de memória, quando a resposta errônea dada em público é mantida na resposta privada e atribuída ao evento original (Deuker et al., 2013;Edelson et al., 2014;Edelson et al., 2011). O hipocampo é uma estrutura cerebral essencial para a criação de novas memórias episódicas (Squire, 2004) e sua ativação em situações de conformidade sugere modificação no próprio traço de memória. ...
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Resumo Conformidade de memória é o fenômeno em que relatos de memória de uma pessoa são modificados após exposição aos relatos de outra pessoa. Estudos sobre conformidade de memória são importantes tanto no âmbito puro quanto aplicado, especialmente quando os estímulos são carregados emocionalmente. No entanto, estudos de conformidade de memória com estímulos emocionais ainda são escassos. Além disso, os poucos estudos sobre o tema apresentam resultados contraditórios. Nesta revisão, apresentamos um breve resumo de pesquisas sobre conformidade de memória em tarefas de reconhecimento e avaliamos o papel moderador da emocionalidade na conformidade. Sugerimos como possível direção de pesquisas futuras a avaliação de duas variáveis, intervalo de retenção e distintividade dos estímulos, que podem ser cruciais para elucidar as inconsistências empíricas.
... For example, conformity behaviors have often been examined in a paradigm in which participants are exposed to many others' opinions that are congruent or incongruent with one's own (Fig. 1C). As such, it has been consistently demonstrated that individuals adjust their initial behaviors to match group opinions when there is a discrepancy between oneself and the group [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]. ...
... Indeed, the past decades have seen intense interest in identifying and delineating the neural substrates of social conformity [10][11][12][32][33][34][35][36]. These neuroimaging studies have shown that social conformity is not a single, unitary construct, but instead engages multiple neurocognitive processes, including brain networks important in reward or punishment processing, mentalizing, and cognitive control [2,6,7,11]. ...
... For example, conformity behaviors in the visual rotation task are paralleled by altered perceptual representations of visual stimuli in occipital-parietal regions [32]. Likewise, social influence leads to long-lasting alterations in memory via modifying neural mnemonic representations in the hippocampus and amygdala [10,85]. Moreover, opinions of others readily affect our valuation of objects, such that behavioral adjustments towards social influence in object evaluation are accompanied by modulated engagement of regions important in subjective value coding, including the vmPFC, VS, and OFC [9,39,86,87]. ...
From birth to adulthood, we often align our behaviors, attitudes, and opinions with a majority, a phenomenon known as social conformity. A seminal framework has proposed that conformity behaviors are mainly driven by three fundamental motives: a desire to gain more information to be accurate, to obtain social approval from others, and to maintain a favorable self-concept. Despite extensive interest in neuroimaging investigation of social conformity, the relationship between brain systems and these fundamental motivations has yet to be established. Here, we reviewed brain imaging findings of social conformity with a componential framework, aiming to reveal the neuropsychological substrates underlying different conformity motivations. First, information-seeking engages the evaluation of social information, information integration, and modification of task-related activity, corresponding to brain networks implicated in reward, cognitive control, and tasks at hand. Second, social acceptance involves the anticipation of social acceptance or rejection and mental state attribution, mediated by networks of reward, punishment, and mentalizing. Third, self-enhancement entails the excessive representation of positive self-related information and suppression of negative self-related information, ingroup favoritism and/or outgroup derogation, and elaborated mentalizing processes to the ingroup, supported by brain systems of reward, punishment, and mentalizing. Therefore, recent brain imaging studies have provided important insights into the fundamental motivations of social conformity in terms of component processes and brain mechanisms.
... The effects of social contagion may be prolonged as well. In Edelson et al. (2011), participants watched a movie with a confederate and then individually completed a memory test three days later. Four days after the first test, they were presented with the responses that they believed the other individual who watched the movie provided. ...
The question of whether human memory is reliable generated extensive research. Memory is open to reconstruction and false retrieval of unpresented information or unexperienced events. These can create problems in judgments and decisions that rely on memory accuracy. In the case of eyewitness testimony, these problems can result in injustice. Then again, memory is also reliable enough. Information acquisition, processing, and retrieval capacity of our memory made it possible to survive the course of evolution. Our memory also makes it possible to continue our daily lives, most of the time without major problems. In the present review, we suggest that the right question to ask may not be whether memory is reliable, but rather to ask when and under what circumstances memory is more reliable. The review's educational aim is to identify the conditions under which memory is more versus less reliable, and its theoretical aim is to discuss memory reliability. We reviewed the literature on situational, emotional, social, and individual difference variables that affect memory reliability, identified the conditions under which memory is more versus less reliable, summarized these outcomes as easy-to-reach items, and discussed them in the light of major theories. Our discussion also touched upon the differentiation of societal myths about the reliability of memory from scientific findings, since believing in memory myths can also affect the reliability of memory. Awareness of the specific circumstances under which memory is more reliable can lead to the consideration of how much memory can be trusted under those specific circumstances.
... Moreover, memorization is a social act, determined by the individual's capacity for memorization but guided by social experiences, expectations, relationships, and perspectives (Connerton 1989: 37). Personal memory can even be changed retrospectively if it does not match with a generally accepted view of past events (Edelson et al. 2011). The capacity to influence and enhance collective memory is thus key in creating loyalty and social commitment. ...
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With increasing sedentism, many early Holocene communities of Southwest Asia experienced an unprecedented increase in medial priming, in various ways and on many levels. Here, we combine new research from the social neurosciences and investigations on mediality to trace the social impact of early Neolithic symbolism in Southwest Asia. We have analysed three case studies: the sedentary hunter-gatherer-fisher communities from Northern Mesopotamia of the 10th to 9th millennium BCE as well as the village farming communities of the Levant and Central Anatolia of the 9th to 7th millennium BCE. Our studies show that the increase in medial priming was not linear, but was rather driven by changing social conditions and human decisions concerning how to address the social challenges of increasing population densities. The novel mediality supported new relationships between people and places, between past and present, and strengthened new interpersonal relations. Outwardly similar symbols had different effects in varied social contexts. In the long run, we have observed a shift from integrative relations between humans and nature, to the dominance and representation of human groups, as well as a greater use of symbols within domestic households. Ever since this shift occurred, symbols have played a crucial role in creating commitment and aligning people.
... In other words, inferring value from each other and the processing of social reward cues guide our behavior (O'Doherty et al., 2017;Scholz et al., 2019). Social influence processing, therefore, involves an interplay of our motivational, affective, and cognitive systems which are again shaped by interaction with the social environment and formed by our social experiences (Challis & Berton, 2015;Edelson et al., 2011;Hughes et al., 2018). Any disturbance in one of these systems can affect social functioning. ...
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Humans are inherently social beings. Being suggestible to each other’s expectations enables pro‐social skills that are crucial for social learning and adaptation. Despite its high relevance for psychiatry, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying social adaptation are still not well understood. This review therefore provides a conceptual framework covering various distinct mechanisms underlying social adaptation and explores the neuropharmacology – in particular the role of the serotonin (5‐HT) system – modulating these mechanisms. This article therefore reviews empirical results on social influence processing and reconciles them with recent findings from psychedelic research on social processing to elucidate neurobiological and neuropharmacological underpinnings of social adaptation. Various computational, neurobiological, and neurochemical processes are involved in distinct mechanisms underlying social adaptation such as the multisensory process of social information integration that is crucial for the forming of self‐representation and representations of social norms. This is again associated with self‐ and other‐perception during social interactions as well as value‐based decision making that guides our behaviour in daily interactions. We highlight the critical role of 5‐HT in these processes and suggest that 5‐HT can facilitate social learning and may represent an important target for treating psychiatric disorders characterized by impairments in social functioning. This framework also has important implications for psychedelic‐assisted therapy as well as for the development of novel treatment approaches and future research directions.
... The social encoding context has, by comparison, received little attention, although recently, social influences on memory systems have attracted scientific interest. These range from investigations into brain mechanisms of social memory conformity 3 to the finding that the hippocampus, a critical region for spatial navigation and episodic memory formation, also represents a "social space" of relationships 4 . Such findings lend momentum to the hypothesis that the social context in which items are encoded affects their subsequent remembering. ...
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Encoding often occurs in social contexts, yet research has hardly addressed their role in verbal memory. In three experiments, we investigated the behavioral and neural effects of encoding context on memory for positive, negative, and neutral adjectives, contrasting a social-feedback group ( N = 24) with an explicit verbal-learning ( N = 24) and a levels-of-processing group ( N = 24). Participants in the social-feedback group were not aware of a recognition session one week later, but their memory was better than the explicit learning or the levels-of-processing groups'. However, they also exhibited the strongest response bias, particularly for positive words. Brain event-related potentials (ERPs) revealed largest early negativities (EPN) and late positivities (LPP) in the social-feedback group. Only in the subsequent slow-wave did the explicit learning group show higher amplitudes than the other two groups, suggesting reliance on strategic rather than automatic processes. Still, context-driven incidental encoding outweighed explicit instructions, specifying a decisive role of social factors in memory.
The traditional view of long-term memory is that memory traces mature in a predetermined 'linear' process: their neural substrate shifts from rapidly plastic medial temporal regions towards stable neocortical networks. We propose that memories remain malleable, not by repeated reinstantiations of this linear process but instead via dynamic routes of proactive and non-linear consolidation: memories change, their trajectory is flexible and reversible, and their physical basis develops continuously according to anticipated demands. Studies demonstrating memory updating, increasing hippocampal dependence to support adaptive use, and rapid neocortical plasticity provide evidence for continued non-linear consolidation. Although anticipated demand can affect all stages of memory formation, the extent to which it shapes the physical memory trace repeatedly and proactively will require further dedicated research.
Motivation plays a significant role in teaching academic writing; thus, finding a reliable, valid, and streamlined approach is crucial. With the promising potential of Tan and Bensal’s (2021) Diametric Motivational Approach (DMA) on students’ academic writing proficiency (AWP), it is necessary to investigate its potency by operationalizing it. With a total of 310 Filipino college students from eleven different academic writing classes being the participants of this study, three main statistical analysis methods were conducted to achieve this study’s objectives of (1) operationalizing DMA and (2) validating the correlation between DMA and AWP. First, Confirmatory Factor Analysis was utilized to establish the DMA’s construct validity. Second, multiple regression analysis was used to analyze the significant relationship between DMA’s constructs and AWP. Last, through mediation analysis the direct and indirect effects of DMA constructs to AWP score were presented. The results established the construct validity of DMA and its significant relationship with AWP. Moreover, discussions of the direct and indirect effects of DMA constructs to AWP were elaborated. This paper could open doors to richer discussion and diverse suggestions for future researchers on how academic writing motivation must be approached.
Autobiographical memories are never isolated episodes; they are embedded in a network that is continually updated and prediction driven. We present autobiographical memory as a meaning‐driven process that includes both veridical traces and reconstructive schemas. Our developmental approach delineates how autobiographical memory develops across childhood and throughout adulthood, and our sociocultural approach examines the ways in which autobiographical memories are shaped by everyday social interactions embedded within cultural worldviews. These approaches are enhanced by a focus on autobiographical memory functions, namely self‐coherence, social embeddedness, and directing future behaviors. Neuroscience models of memory outlined in multiple trace and trace transformation theories and perceptual principles of predictive processing establish mechanisms and frameworks into which autobiographical memory processes are incorporated. Rather than conceptualizing autobiographical and episodic memories as accurate versus error‐prone, we frame memory as a dynamic process that is continuously updated to create coherent meaning for individuals living in complex sociocultural worlds. Autobiographical memory is a process of both accuracy and error, an intricate weaving of specific episodic details, inferences and confusions among similar experiences; it incorporates post‐event information through reminiscing and conversations, in the service of creating more meaningful coherent memories that define self, others, and the world. This article is categorized under: Psychology > Memory “Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.” (Levi, P. [2017]. The drowned and the saved [p. 11]. Simon and Schuster).
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Prior experiments with children across seven different societies have indicated U-shaped age patterns in the likelihood of copying majority demonstrations. It is unclear which learning strategies underlie the observed responses that create these patterns. Here we broaden the understanding of children’s learning strategies by: (1) exploring social learning patterns among 6–13-year-olds (n = 270) from ethnolinguistically varied communities in Vanuatu; (2) comparing these data with those reported from other societies (n = 629), and (3) re-analysing our and previous data based on a theoretically plausible set of underlying strategies using Bayesian methods. We find higher rates of social learning in children from Vanuatu, a country with high linguistic and cultural diversity. Furthermore, our results provide statistical evidence for modest U-shaped age patterns for a more clearly delineated majority learning strategy across the current and previously investigated societies, suggesting that the developmental mechanisms structuring majority bias are cross-culturally highly recurrent and hence a fundamental feature of early human social learning.
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When two people witness an event, they often discuss it. Because memory is not perfect, sometimes this discussion includes errors. One person's errors can become part of another person's account, and this proliferation of error can lead to miscarriages of justice. In this article, we describe the social and cognitive processes involved. Research shows how people combine information about their own memory with other people's memories based on factors such as confidence, perceived expertise, and the social cost of disagreeing with other people. We describe the implications of this research for eyewitness testimony.
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A theft was staged 70 times for pairs of eyewitnesses ( N = 140) who then made a photo-lineup identification. Witnesses then received 1 of 9 types of information regarding the alleged identification decision of their co-witness. Witnesses told that their co-witness identified the same person whom they had identified showed an increase in the confidence they expressed to a confederate police officer. Confidence deflation occurred among witnesses who thought their co-witness either identified another person or had stated that the thief was not in the lineup. Initial co-witness information was not mitigated by subsequent changes to that information. A 2nd study showed videotapes of these witnesses' testimonies to observers ( n = 378) whose credibility ratings of the testimony paralleled the witnesses' self-rated confidence. Eyewitness identification confidence was highly malleable after the identification had been made despite the fact that physical resemblance between the culprit and person identified had not changed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Results from recent studies of retrograde amnesia following damage to the hippocampal complex of human and non-human subjects have shown that retrograde amnesia is extensive and can encompass much of a subject's lifetime; the degree of loss may depend upon the type of memory assessed. These and other findings suggest that the hippocampal formation and related structures are involved in certain forms of memory (e.g. autobiographical episodic and spatial memory) for as long as they exist and contribute to the transformation and stabilization of other forms of memory stored elsewhere in the brain.
Conformity to the group is a complex phenomenon, which should be differentiated into several distinct psychological processes, and has often been contrasted with nonconformity or independence. This chapter describes the various aspects of conformity, public compliance and private change, conditions of responding, characteristics of the group, and nature of the task. Nonconformity consists of two conceptually distinct types of behavior, and may reflect independence, or it may actually be anticonformity. These three types of behavior—conformity, independence, and anticonformity—are related to each other as the apexes of a triangle. It makes a great deal of difference whether agreement with the group is public compliance, or true private change, or whether nonconformity represents independence or anticonformity. Although, there have been a few studies of generalization of conformity, little is known of the generality of conformity, and investigations have not been conducted on the generality of conformity across situations outside the laboratory. A subject in a conformity situation has information and beliefs about several important features of the situation: the task, other members of the group, and the experimenter. Theories of conformity, which have been advanced in recent years, include psychoanalytic, cognitive, reinforcement, and even mathematical models. Research should be directed toward understanding the variables that affect nonconformity, as well as conformity.
Most experiments in social psychology are considered defective because the investigators, lacking social perspective, set up their problems within the culture of their own communities. The writer has no sympathy for the controversy between the individual and the social approaches. The individual is regarded as basic, and any valid psychological principle should apply to the individual, alone, in a group, or in relation to his whole culture. Throughout psychology, in perception, in judgment, in affectivity, etc., the frame of reference is shown to be an important determinant of experience. Variations in culture are shown to be variations in frames of reference common to various groups. Social frames of reference (social norms, i.e. values, customs, stereotypes, conventions, etc.) are regarded first as stimuli which meet the individual in his associations with others and then become interiorized. The process of establishing a social norm is illustrated experimentally in an unstable perceptual situation (autokinetic phenomenon). Observing alone, the individual establishes his own frame of reference, which is modified in the direction of conformity when he observes in a group. Observing first in a group, frames of reference are set up which determine subsequent reports when the individual observes alone (illustrating the factual basis for the contentions that supra-individual qualities arise in group situations). Social values in relation to personal needs are discussed in the light of this experiment. A final chapter describes "human nature" as dependent upon the norms peculiar to the individual's group. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
A syndrome consisting of "agnostic" disturbances, strong "oral" tendencies, and marked emotional changes resulted from bilateral temporal lobectomy in 3 rhesus monkeys. The "agnostic" disturbances appeared in the form of hyper-attention to seen objects, with repeated manipulation of all objects irrespective of importance. This manipulation tended to take an "oral" form. Social behavior was markedly decreased, behavior characteristic of anger, fear, etc. largely disappeared, and a persistence of attentive action appeared. The "agnostic" symptoms were primarily visual, but some evidence appeared for the meaninglessness of perceptions in other sensory fields. Slight visual disturbances present after operation could not have accounted for the agnostic disturbances. This report, given as preliminary evidence, is detailed for one animal over a period of 4 months. The data from the other two animals were confirmatory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)