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Preference uncertainty accounts for developmental effects on susceptibility to peer influence in adolescence

Reiter, A; Moutoussis, M; Vanes, L; Kievit, R; Bullmore, ET; Goodyer, IM; Fonagy, P; ... Dolan, RJ; + view all (2021) Preference uncertainty accounts for developmental effects on susceptibility to peer influence in adolescence. Nature Communications , 12 , Article 3823. 10.1038/s41467-021-23671-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Adolescents are prone to social influence from peers, with implications for development, both adaptive and maladaptive. Here, using a computer-based paradigm, we replicate a cross-sectional effect of more susceptibility to peer influence in a large dataset of adolescents 14 to 24 years old. Crucially, we extend this finding by adopting a longitudinal perspective, showing that a within-person susceptibility to social influence decreases over a 1.5 year follow-up time period. Exploiting this longitudinal design, we show that susceptibility to social influences at baseline predicts an improvement in peer relations over the follow-up period. Using a Bayesian computational model, we show that in younger adolescents a greater tendency to adopt others' preferences arises out of a higher uncertainty about their own preferences in the paradigmatic case of delay discounting (a phenomenon called 'preference uncertainty'). This preference uncertainty decreases over time and, in turn, leads to a reduced susceptibility of one's own behaviour to an influence from others‟. Neuro-developmentally, we show that a measure of myelination within medial prefrontal cortex, estimated at baseline, predicts a developmental decrease in preference uncertainty at follow up. Thus, using computational and neural evidence, we reveal adaptive mechanisms underpinning susceptibility to social influence during adolescence.

Type: Article
Title: Preference uncertainty accounts for developmental effects on susceptibility to peer influence in adolescence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23671-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23671-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Adolescence, peer influence, social development, preference uncertainty, myelination
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10126818
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