Blend in or stand out: social anxiety levels shape information-sharing strategies

Silina Zaatri, Idan M. Aderka, Uri Hertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although living in social groups provides many benefits for group members, such groups also serve as a setting for social competition over rank and influence. Evolutionary accounts suggest that social anxiety plays a role in regulating in-group conflict, as individuals who are concerned about social threat may choose to defer to others to maintain the hierarchical status quo. Here, we examine how social anxiety levels are related to the advice-giving style an individual adopts: a competitive influence-seeking strategy or a defensive blend-in strategy. We begin by demonstrating that similarity to others drives activity in the brain's valuation system, even during a competitive advice-taking task. Then, in three behavioural experiments, we show that social anxiety levels are related to the tendency to give advice resembling the advice given by rival advisers and to refrain from status-seeking behaviour. Social anxiety was also associated with negative social comparisons with rival advisers. Our findings highlight the role of competing social goals in shaping information sharing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220476
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume289
Issue number1975
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
U.H. was supported by the National Institute of Psychobiology in Israel (grant no. 211-19-20) and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1532/20).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Keywords

  • advice giving
  • information sharing
  • social anxiety
  • social influence
  • social motivation
  • ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)

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