“The Neuroscience of Social Networks: How Consensus-Building Conversation Changes Our Minds and Aligns Our Brains,” Adam M. Kleinbaum, Dartmouth

Event time: 
Monday, November 16, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
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Event description: 


Abstract: How do people come to share a way of seeing the world? We show that consensus-building conversation can align future brain activity. We scanned participants’ brains as they watched previously unseen movie clips with ambiguous narrative content. Participants then gathered in conversation groups with the goal of coming to a consensus about each movie clip’s narrative. Finally, participants were scanned while viewing the clips again, along with novel clips from the same movies. We found that group members’ neural activity became more aligned after conversation, with each group achieving a distinctive pattern of alignment reflecting their unique discussion. This alignment persisted over novel clips, framing new but related information. Finally, we found that participants who were central in their real-world social networks played an outsized role in creating group alignment, both by facilitating conversation and by being more likely to adapt their own brain activity to the group. These results suggest that the effects of conversation on private thought are a powerful determinant of social influence. We discuss implications for theories of social influence, language, and the mind.

Adam M. Kleinbaum is an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Strategy and Management area at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He teaches a core MBA course on leadership and organizational behavior, an elective seminar on social networks, and an international learning expedition to Israel. Adam’s research examines the antecedents and evolution of social networks in organizations. He has shown how formal and informal structures and processes, prior career history, and individual personality contribute to advantageous network structures. New research explores the neuroscience of social networks. A secondary stream of research explores how the structure of a firm’s internal communication network serves to enable coordination, innovation and, ultimately, firm performance.

This virtual workshop is open to the Yale community. To receive Zoom information, you must subscribe to the Computational Social Science Workshop at this link: https://csap.yale.edu/computational-social-science-workshop.

This workshop is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP) and the Yale School of Management (SOM) with support from the Initiative for Leadership and Organization at SOM.