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The role of outgroup homogeneity and the neurodynamics of the frontal cortex during beauty comparisons


Social Neuroscience


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Zacharopoulos G;Ohmann K;Ihssen N;Kedia G;Mussweiler T;Linden D E J

Publication Year



The distance effect states that the closer two compared magnitudes (e.g. two numbers, 2 physical attractiveness in two faces), the more difficult the comparison, and the greater the 3 activity of the frontoparietal control network. However, it is unclear whether this network is 4 also recruited to the same extent when we perform ingroup and outgroup beauty comparisons 5 and whether the activation of these networks is tracked by interindividual variation in the 6 perceptions we hold about an outgroup. We recorded brain activity with fMRI, where 7 participants compared the beauty of two women ostensibly either from their ingroup or from 8 an outgroup. Low-distance conditions produced longer response times than the high-distance 9 conditions, and this was found in both the ingroup and outgroup conditions. However, our 10 neuroimaging analyses revealed that the left IFG/anterior insula showed the classic distance 11 effect only during ingroup processing but not during outgroup processing. Notably, 12 interaction-specific activity within the left IFG/anterior insula was related to perceptions of 13 outgroup homogeneity assessed via a questionnaire. This set of findings reveals the dynamic 14 role of the prefrontal cortex and its interplay with perceptions of outgroup homogeneity in 15 shaping ingroup and outgroup decision-making.


IFG/anterior insula; Beauty comparisons; Outgroup homogeneity

Available on ECCH


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