The neural basis of social influence and attitude change

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Human attitudes and preferences are susceptible to social influence. Recent social neuroscience studies, using theories and experimental paradigms from social psychology, have begun to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying how others influence our attitudes through processes such as social conformity, cognitive inconsistency and persuasion. The currently available evidence highlights the role of the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) in social conformity and cognitive inconsistency, which represents the discrepancy between one's own and another person's opinion, or, more broadly, between currently inconsistent and ideally consistent states. Research on persuasion has revealed that people's susceptibility to persuasive messages is related to activation in a nearby but more anterior part of the medial frontal cortex. Future progress in this field will depend upon the ability of researchers to dissociate underlying motivations for attitude change in different paradigms, and to utilize neuroimaging methods to advance social psychological theories of social influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-462
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in neurobiology
Issue number3
Early online date19 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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