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. 2015 Oct;10(10):1323-8.
doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv020. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Reflected Glory and Failure: The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Ventral Striatum in Self vs Other Relevance During Advice-Giving Outcomes

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Reflected Glory and Failure: The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Ventral Striatum in Self vs Other Relevance During Advice-Giving Outcomes

Dean Mobbs et al. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Despite the risks, people enjoy giving advice. One explanation is that giving beneficial advice can result in reflected glory, ego boosts or reputation enhancement. However, giving poor advice can be socially harmful (being perceived as incompetent or untrustworthy). In both circumstances, we have a vested interest in the advice follower's success or failure, especially when it reflects specifically on us compared with when it is diffused between multiple advisors. We examined these dynamics using an Advisor-Advisee Game, where subjects acted as an Advisor to a confederate Advisee who selected one of the three options when trying to win money: accept the subject's advice, accept the advice of a second confederate Advisor or accept both Advisors' advice. Results showed that having one's advice accepted, compared with being rejected, resulted in activity in the ventral striatum--a core reward area. Furthermore, the ventral striatum was only active when the subject's advice led to the advisee winning, and not when the advisee won based on the confederate's advice. Finally, the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was more active when the Advisee won or lost money based solely on the subject's advice compared with when the second Advisor's advice was accepted. One explanation for these findings is that the MPFC monitors self-relevant social information, while the ventral striatum is active when others accept advice and when their success leads to reflected glory.

Keywords: advice giving; medial prefrontal cortex; reflected glory; reward; self-relevance.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Trial sequence and timing of the Advisor-Advisee Game. The subject (Advisor A), but not the Advisee or Advisor B (both confederates), was initially presented with two boxes on the screen. Each box showed the probability of that box winning if it was later selected. The subject was told that when these probability percentages were replaced with question marks, both the Advisee and Advisor B could now also see the boxes. The subject then gave advice by pressing a left or right button to signal to the Advisee which box was the most likely one to win. Following this, the subject was told that the Advisee could either accept their advice, reject their advice or accept both the subject’s and Advisor B’s advice. After a jittered ITI, the outcome of whether the Advisee won or lost was revealed to the subject. Finally, to ensure the subject was paying attention, she/he had to indicate the win or lose outcome of the Advisee.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
fMRI results. (A) Medial PFC (MPFC) activity associated with having advice accepted compared with rejected. (B) Medial PFC (MPFC) and striatal activity associated with having advice accepted compared with when the Advisee accepted the subject (Advisor 1) and Advisor 2. (C) Activity associated with observing the Advisee win after having one’s advice accepted compared with rejected. (D) Neural activity when the Advisee won money after accepting advice from the subject versus the subject plus Advisor B. (E) Activity for the Self loss/win minus Both loss/win comparison. All images are displayed at P < 0.001uncorrected. Encircled areas reflect peak co-ordinates. MPFC = medial prefrontal cortex; VS = ventral striatum. Both the MPFC and VS regions were SVC at P < 0.05 FWE with an 8 mm sphere (Izuma et al., 2010; Yu et al., 2010).

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