The neurobiology of rewards and values in social decision making

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Aug;15(8):549-62. doi: 10.1038/nrn3776. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


How does our brain choose the best course of action? Choices between material goods are thought to be steered by neural value signals that encode the rewarding properties of the choice options. Social decisions, by contrast, are traditionally thought to rely on neural representations of the self and others. However, recent studies show that many types of social decisions may also involve neural value computations. This suggests a unified mechanism for motivational control of behaviour that may incorporate both social and non-social factors. In this Review, we outline a theoretical framework that may help to identify possible overlaps and differences between the neural processes that guide social and non-social decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Reward*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Values*