Conformity in Virtual Environments: A Hybrid Neurophysiological and Psychosocial Approach
The main aim of our study was to analyze the effects of a virtual environment on social conformity, with particular attention to the effects of different types of task and psychological variables on social influence, on one side, and to the neural correlates related to conformity, measured by means of an Emotiv EPOC device on the other. For our purpose, we replicated the famous Asch’s visual task and created two new tasks of increasing ambiguity, assessed through the calculation of the item’s entropy. We also administered five scales in order to assess different psychological traits. From the experiment, conducted on 181 university students, emerged that conformity grows according to the ambiguity of the task, but normative influence is significantly weaker in virtual environments, if compared to face-to-face experiments. The analyzed psychological traits, however, result not to be relatable to conformity, and they only affect the subjects’ response times. From the ERP (Event-related potentials) analysis, we detected N200 and P300 components comparing the plots of conformist and non-conformist subjects, alongside with the detection of their Late Positive Potential, Readiness Potential, and Error-Related Negativity, which appear consistently different for the two typologies.
KeywordsSocial conformity Social influence ERP Group pressure In-group dynamics
This work was supported by EU Commission (FP7-ICT-2013-10) Proposal No. 611299 SciCafe 2.0.
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