Results showed that increased TPJ volume was associated with increased altruistic behavior i. Further, TPJ volume predicted the cost that each individual was willing to pay for an altruistic act, and this individual-specific cost was associated with functional activation in the TPJ during an altruistic act. Thus, neuroanatomical differences in brain structure can explain differences in altruistic behavior and functional activity in the TPJ during altruistic behavior. Research in social decision-making is shifting from simple description to explanation of individual differences Apicella et al.
We hold, and have hopefully demonstrated in our review, that neural traits can play a significant role in uncovering the sources of these individual differences in decision-making processes and behavior. In the next section, we explore nascent opportunities for the neural trait approach in social decision-making research. First, neural traits can play a role in recent efforts to more precisely determine heterogeneity in behavior by examining behavior across multiple types of games.
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Second, neural traits can inform the ongoing debate about the role of self-control in social decision-making. Recent findings highlight another emerging research opportunity. The meaning or motives behind certain behaviors in economic games have been hotly contested. A single economic game played with one-shot interactions can reveal individual differences in cooperative behavior.
But why are people cooperative in that game? Is there only one motive driving behavior for all people? Or can people be cooperative for different reasons? Whereas multiple economic games have been employed primarily to examine behavioral consistency Yamagishi et al. Research that used this methodology has revealed that the same behavior e. As an example of this multiple game methodology, Yamagishi et al. Yamagishi et al. These researchers focused on people who rejected unfair offers in the UG and examined their behavior as proposer in the DG.
Two groups emerged. For this latter group, purely selfish monetary gain is not the driving motive, hence the rejection of money, nor is fairness, hence the unfair proposal in the DG.
Rather, these people appear to reject unfair offers purely out of spite. Thus, evidence for both fairness and spitefulness motives were found, though amongst separate groups of people. The use of multiple economic games to characterize heterogeneity in decision-making has even been used recently to isolate the elusive Homo economicus —a model of behavior in which the person maximizes personal gain with no regard for others.
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They focused on two selfish groups. Another group, termed quasi-Homo economicus comprising 8. Further, based on personality profiles, the authors reasoned that the Homo economicus group appeared more rational, whereas the quasi-Homo economicus group appeared intuitive Yamagishi et al.
Thus, administering multiple games to the same individuals can better describe individual differences, particularly amongst people who evidence the same behavior in a single game. However, the sources of such differences remain unexplained. Neural traits are ideally positioned to explain these more fine-grained motives and preferences. In studies that administer several games, it is particularly critical that neural traits can be measured separately and objectively from social behavior, controlling for bias and demand characteristics that could adversely impact multiple instances of behaviors.
For example, what are the sources of individual differences between Homo economicus and quasi-Homo economicus groups? These authors speculated that these groups differed in rationality and cognitive control capacity. The neural trait approach could probe whether Homo economicus and quasi-Homo economicus demonstrate differences in resting-state activity or structure in the lateral PFC, importantly, without adulterating the multiple instances of behaviors.
Self-control is commonly implicated in many social behaviors. Self-control is the process in which thoughts, emotions, or prepotent responses are inhibited to efficiently enact a focal goal. Self-control is thus used to resolve conflicts between competing motives, and most economic games invoke such a conflict as prosocial behaviors often carry pecuniary sacrifice.
However, there is an ongoing debate about which kind of behavior is prepotent—selfish or prosocial behavior—and, as a result, which behavior requires self-control to implement. On the one hand, the classic assumption has been that selfish desires are automatic or primary impulses and prosocial desires are secondary, requiring self-control to implement. For example, Strang et al. Results showed that only disruption of the right lateral PFC caused a reduction in the strategic shift from lower offers in the no-punishment condition to higher offers in the punishment condition.
In a separate study, Ruff et al. Results showed that increased right lateral PFC activity caused an increased strategic shift in offers in the ultimatum game from the dictator game, whereas decreased right lateral PFC-activity caused a reduction in this strategic shift, as compared to a sham activation control group.
Together, these results support the idea that the lateral PFC plays a causal role in the implementation of norm compliant behavior and, more appositely, support the view that prosocial behavior requires self-control.
Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior
On the other hand, researchers have found evidence contrary to this classic assumption—i. For example, Rand et al. An fMRI study demonstrated that accepting, and not rejecting, unfair offers in the ultimatum game involves the lateral PFC, suggesting that the lateral PFC was involved in controlling automatic prosocial impulses to enact the selfish choice of keeping money Tabibnia et al.
Finally, a number of studies have found that prosocial behavior involves reward-related brain regions and does not involve the self-control-related lateral PFC for a review, see Zaki and Mitchell, These competing results demonstrate that the current debate could benefit from an integrative perspective. This position aligns with classic psychological principles e.
Further, this view aligns well with contemporary theorizing on prosocial behavior. For example, Declerck et al. To enact cooperative behavior, people with self-regarding preferences require extrinsic incentives for context-specific cooperation. Overcoming selfish motives and implementing prosocial behavior, for those with self-regarding preferences, requires cognitive control via the lateral PFC for supportive experimental evidence, see Emonds et al. Neural traits could figure prominently in investigating a neuropsychological model of social preferences and contextual influences.
For example, one could first measure neural traits and then measure neural activation during the social behavior. As an illustration of this, recall the study described above in which resting-state activation in the lateral PFC helped explain individual differences in costly punishment behavior Knoch et al. Theoretically, resting-state activation in the lateral PFC could be positively associated with online activation in the lateral PFC and self-control during costly punishment behavior, particularly in the presence of extrinsic incentives for context-specific cooperation.
On the other hand, it is also possible that certain neural traits are associated with more efficient use of certain brain areas or systems and could be related to reduced rather than increased online activation in respective brain regions. Such findings would cast an entirely new light on research involving task-dependent activity. These are intriguing open questions well-suited to the neural trait approach.
We have outlined the ways in which neural traits may meet the demands of a changing field of research currently shifting from description towards explanation. Neural traits offer an objective, stable measure to uncover sources of heterogeneity in social preferences.
In closing, we first wish to highlight a limitation. Indeed, this potential was often discussed in this paper as an advantage of the approach. To be clear, however, inferring the psychological mechanism is more appropriate when a brain region has been tightly linked to specific, germane functioning. We reviewed several studies that attempted to provide mechanistic evidence.
Recall the impartiality research in which Baumgartner et al. These results supported their inference that people with increased volume in the dorsomedial PFC had improved perspective-taking abilities and are able to employ this capacity more equally for in and outgroup members, leading to reduced bias. Future neural trait research should similarly probe both neural and psychological mechanisms that underlie the links between neural traits and individual differences in social decision-making behaviors.
We close by noting exciting potential applications. Though neural traits are highly stable across time, they should not be immutable. For example, techniques such as neurofeedback, meditation, or repeated practice of skills have the capacity to increase cortical volume or cortical baseline activity in specific brain regions e. Thus, targeted training manipulations of specific neural traits related to social preferences might impart stable changes to social preferences and self-control capacity. Finally, we focused on stable neural traits in healthy adults. For example, the neural trait approach can occupy a unique position in genetic research on social preferences and decision-making.
The intermediate phenotype model views neural mechanisms as the intermediate stage through which genes direct behavior Meyer-Lindenberg and Weinberger, Neural trait measures are ideal intermediate phenotypes given that intermediate phenotypes are defined as stable and heritable e. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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How do you feel—now? The anterior insula and human awareness.
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Personality Psychology. Articles Cited by Co-authors. Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior, , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2 , , Journal of research in personality 47 5 , , This handbook provides a comprehensive, authoritative examination of the full range of personality variables associated with interpersonal judgment, behavior, and emotion. The contributors are acknowledged experts who have conducted influential research on the constructs they address. Chapters discuss how each personality attribute is conceptualized and assessed, review the strengths and limitations of available measures including child and adolescent measures, when available , present important findings related to social behavior, and identify directions for future study.
Recensie s Knowledge about personality has the potential to have a major impact on how researchers and therapists understand people's social lives. This volume is one of the finest examples of how clinical, social, personality, developmental, and biological psychology can be woven together in nearly every chapter. Extending beyond arbitrary subdisciplinary boundaries, the authors provide an enlightening, scholarly examination of how people differ in the ability to navigate their everyday environments. This book will be a terrific text for courses on personality. Kashdan, PhD, Department of Psychology, George Mason University One of the more interesting questions in contemporary psychology concerns the interaction of personal dispositions and situational contexts in motivating human behavior.
Leary and Hoyle have gathered together a set of creative social scientists who have written compelling chapters on nearly 40 dispositions and their influence on social processes and outcomes. This volume will be stimulating reading for graduate students in personality and social psychology, and it reveals why the boundary between personality and social psychology is not especially meaningful. A wonderfully conceived project!
The volume offers lively, state-of-the-art coverage of nearly all the major personality traits that have proven useful in predicting how people will act and interact. If you want to know how people differ in ways that matter for social life, this is the book for you.
Baumeister, PhD, Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology, Florida State University This book tackles the thorny and difficult question of whether behavior is determined more by the person or by the situation. Leading scholars present compelling evidence that different types of people respond to their circumstances in vastly different ways, and that assessing personality provides important insights into interpersonal behavior.
The chapters serve as excellent summaries and tutorials on numerous aspects of personality, making this a valuable resource for students and faculty alike. Highly recommended for anyone interested in human behavior. The Handbook covers a large and comprehensive range of important dispositional variables, including the classic dimensions of personality, interpersonal aspects of functioning, and emotional, cognitive, and motivational dispositions, as well as self-related dispositions.