How peer influence shapes value computation in moral decision-making

Hongbo Yu, Jenifer Z. Siegel, John A. Clithero, Molly J. Crockett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Moral behavior is susceptible to peer influence. How does information from peers influence moral preferences? We used drift-diffusion modeling to show that peer influence changes the value of moral behavior by prioritizing the choice attributes that align with peers' goals. Study 1 (N = 100; preregistered) showed that participants accurately inferred the goals of prosocial and antisocial peers when observing their moral decisions. In Study 2 (N = 68), participants made moral decisions before and after observing the decisions of a prosocial or antisocial peer. Peer observation caused participants' own preferences to resemble those of their peers. This peer influence effect on value computation manifested as an increased weight on choice attributes promoting the peers' goals that occurred independently from peer influence on initial choice bias. Participants' self-reported awareness of influence tracked more closely with computational measures of prosocial than antisocial influence. Our findings have implications for bolstering and blocking the effects of prosocial and antisocial influence on moral behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104641
JournalCognition
Volume211
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Bayesian hierarchical modeling
  • Drift diffusion model
  • Goal
  • Moral decision-making
  • Social influence

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