Read Montague's group studies
brain correlates of how we manipulate other people's beliefs about ourselves for gain. A review by Bhanoo
describes the effort:
Researchers created a game in which players were given the true value of an object on a scale of 1 to 10. The players used this information to make a bid to the seller of the object, who did not know the true value...The buyers fell into three groups. One group consisted of players who were honest in their price suggestions, making low bids directly related to the true value. A second group, called “conservatives,” made bids only weakly related to the true price. The last and most interesting group, known as “strategic deceivers,” bid higher when the true price was low, and then when the true price was high, they bid low, and collected large gains...strategic deceivers had unique brain activity in regions connected to complex decision-making, goal maintenance and understanding another person’s belief system. Though the game was abstract, there are real-life advantages to being a strategic deceiver...It’s used to bargain in a marketplace or in a store but also to recruit someone for a job, or to negotiate a higher salary.
Here is the abstract of the paper:
The management and manipulation of our own social image in the minds of others requires difficult and poorly understood computations. One computation useful in social image management is strategic deception: our ability and willingness to manipulate other people's beliefs about ourselves for gain. We used an interpersonal bargaining game to probe the capacity of players to manage their partner's beliefs about them. This probe parsed the group of subjects into three behavioral types according to their revealed level of strategic deception; these types were also distinguished by neural data measured during the game. The most deceptive subjects emitted behavioral signals that mimicked a more benign behavioral type, and their brains showed differential activation in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left Brodmann area 10 at the time of this deception. In addition, strategic types showed a significant correlation between activation in the right temporoparietal junction and expected payoff that was absent in the other groups. The neurobehavioral types identified by the game raise the possibility of identifying quantitative biomarkers for the capacity to manipulate and maintain a social image in another person's mind.
Ah, but this is such an economist-icky view of what "advantages" mean... Strategic deceit can almost self-evidently lead to significant material gain in an interactive world, especially the world of social animals in the wild. But humans are "big but" animals, in that our minds often generate better senses of "life path" when we are not strategic deceivers when we could be. (When our minds think, "But...") The experiment, as a low-stakes game that deliberately places itself outside of "life path" construction, cannot capture this. Consider neighborhood games of poker, where expert strategic deceivers choose not to practice their art.ReplyDelete
"The neurobehavioral types identified by the game raise the possibility of identifying quantitative biomarkers for the capacity to manipulate and maintain a social image in another person's mind."
Only in the context of the artificial game. External validity into situations where the mind's "does this fit my life path?" module kicks in would presumably not hold.
I'm trying to figure out how this study really works, and what it means in real terms; is it the person who overpays for small items and then, having gained the seller's trust, goes in for the "big drop" -- with 60 sales to be made, it represents a long-standing relationship, so is it less relevant in the single transaction? I am very interested in being enlightened on this.ReplyDelete