Social Closeness and Feedback Modulate Susceptibility to the Framing Effect
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Taylor & Francis
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Although we often seek social feedback (SFB) from others to help us make decisions, little is known about how SFB affects decisions under risk, particularly from a close peer. We conducted two experiments using an established framing task to probe how decision-making is modulated by SFB valence (positive, negative) and the level of closeness with feedback provider (friend, confederate). Participants faced mathematically equivalent decisions framed as either an opportunity to keep (gain frame) or lose (loss frame) part of an initial endowment. Periodically, participants were provided with positive (e.g., “Nice!”) or negative (e.g., “Lame!”) feedback about their choices. Such feedback was provided by either a confederate (Experiment 1) or a gender-matched close friend (Experiment 2). As expected, the framing effect was observed in both experiments. Critically, an individual's susceptibility to the framing effect was modulated by the valence of the SFB, but only when the feedback provider was a close friend. This effect was reflected in the activation patterns of ventromedial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, regions involved in complex decision-making. Taken together, these results highlight social closeness as an important factor in understanding the impact of SFB on neural mechanisms of decision-making.