So pretty! The neural correlates of self-other vs familiar-other attractiveness comparisons

Kedia, G, Mussweiler, T M, Adam, R, Ischebeck, A, Ihssen, N and Linden, D E J (2019) So pretty! The neural correlates of self-other vs familiar-other attractiveness comparisons. Social Neuroscience, 14 (1). pp. 41-52. ISSN 1747-0919 OPEN ACCESS

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that comparing two persons activates a frontoparietal network associated with numbers and nonsocial magnitudes. However, it is unclear whether this network is also recruited by comparisons involving the self. Self-reflection engages self-serving motivations (e.g. the maintenance of a positive self-image) and is associated with specific brain structures, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), the anterior insula (AI) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Self-other comparisons may thus rely on distinct neural activity. To clarify this question, we used fMRI and asked female participants to compare their own attractiveness (or the attractiveness of a familiar woman) to pictures of unknown women. Participants were slower for comparisons with targets whose attractiveness was similar to their own (or their familiar other). Yet although this behavioral result resembles the distance effect reported for nonsocial magnitudes, at the brain level, it was linked to the activity of the AI, the ACC and the MPFC. The effect of distance in these regions was stronger for self-other than familiar-other comparisons. We interpret these results in relation to previous literature in social psychology and social neuroscience.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
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© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

This work was supported by the bilateral program between the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ESRC); and the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Grant number: RES-062-23-0946: The Neural Substrates of Social Comparison

Funder Name: Economic and Social Research Council, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2017 09:33
Date of first compliant deposit: 24 Oct 2017
Subjects: S > Social roles
S > Self-actualization (Psychology)
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2021 12:03
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/913
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