Group membership dictates the neural correlates of social optimism biases

Dricu, Mihai; Schüpbach, Laurent; Bristle, Mirko David Tobias; Wiest, Roland; Moser, Dominik; Aue, Tatjana (2020). Group membership dictates the neural correlates of social optimism biases. Scientific reports, 10(1), p. 1139. Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-020-58121-4

s41598-020-58121-4.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview

Optimism bias, i.e. expecting the future to hold more desirable than undesirable outcomes, also extends to people that we like or admire. However, it remains unknown how the brain generates this social optimism bias. In this study, respondents estimated the likelihood of future desirable and undesirable outcomes for an in-group and three out-groups: warm-incompetent, cold-competent, and cold-incompetent. We found a strong social optimism bias for the in-group and the warm out-group and an inverted pattern for the cold-incompetent out-group. For all groups, scores of social optimism bias correlated with the brain activity in structures that respondents differentially engaged depending on the target social group. In line with our hypotheses, evaluating the in-group recruited the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, whereas evaluating the warm out-group engaged the posterior insula, mid cingulate cortex, and somatosensory cortices. These findings suggest different underlying cognitive mechanisms of social optimism bias for these groups, despite similar behavioral patterns. Thinking about the cold out-groups recruited the right anterior temporal pole and temporoparietal junction. Evaluating the cold-incompetent out-group additionally recruited the anterior insula, dorsomedial frontal cortex, and inferior frontal cortex. We discuss these neuroimaging findings with respect to their putative cognitive functions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology

UniBE Contributor:

Dricu, Mihai, Schüpbach, Laurent, Bristle, Mirko David Tobias, Wiest, Roland Gerhard Rudi, Moser, Dominik, Aue, Tatjana


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Springer Nature


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Tatjana Aue Seil

Date Deposited:

29 Jan 2020 09:53

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:33

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

social optimism bias; fMRI; stereotype content model; warmth; competence; in-group; out-group; social identification




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback