Our attitudes towards others influence a wide range of everyday behaviors, and have been the most extensively studied concept in the history of social psychology. Yet they remain difficult to measure reliably and objectively, since both explicit and implicit measures are typically confounded by other psychological processes. We here address the feasibility of decoding incidental attitudes based on brain activations. Participants were presented with pictures of members of a Japanese idol group inside an fMRI scanner while performing an unrelated detection task, and subsequently (outside the scanner) performed an incentive-compatible choice task that revealed their attitude toward each celebrity. We used a real-world election scheme that exists for this idol group, which confirmed both strongly negative and strongly positive attitudes towards specific individuals. Whole-brain multivariate analyses (searchlight-based support vector regression) showed that activation patterns in the anterior striatum predicted each participant’s revealed attitudes (choice behavior) using leave-one-out (as well as 4-fold) cross-validation across participants. By contrast, attitude extremity (unsigned magnitude) could be decoded from a distinct region in the posterior striatum. The findings demonstrate dissociable striatal representations of valenced attitude and attitude extremity, and constitute a first step toward an objective and process-pure neural measure of attitudes.
|Journal||Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience|
|Early online date||20 Sep 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
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- attitude extremity