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Mahmoodi, Ali; Bahrami, Bahador; Mehring, Carsten (2018): Reciprocity of social influence. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 9, 2474
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Abstract

Humans seek advice, via social interaction, to improve their decisions. While social interaction is often reciprocal, the role of reciprocity in social influence is unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that our influence on others affects how much we are influenced by them. Participants first made a visual perceptual estimate and then shared their estimate with an alleged partner. Then, in alternating trials, the participant either revised their decisions or observed how the partner revised theirs. We systematically manipulated the partner's susceptibility to influence from the participant. We show that participants reciprocated influence with their partner by gravitating toward the susceptible (but not insusceptible) partner's opinion. In further experiments, we showed that reciprocity is both a dynamic process and is abolished when people believed that they interacted with a computer. Reciprocal social influence is a signaling medium for human-to-human communication that goes beyond aggregation of evidence for decision improvement.