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Article: "People Experience a Reward-like Sensation When They Get to Confirm Their Expectations of Other People"

July 20, 2021

A team of psychology researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Harvard University found that having a prediction confirmed, such as culturally based gender stereotypes or preconceived notions about politicians, triggers a reward center in the brain. Researchers suspect the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain previously linked to rewarding experiences, contributes to this reaction.

“Our research suggests that people experience a reward-like effect from each such encounter, suggesting one explanation why it is so hard to change stereotypes and other forms of social expectations. This insight may prove useful in dealing with prejudice, discrimination, and increased polarization in society," says Dr. Niv Reggev, a member of BGU's Department of Psychology and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience.

The study consisted of four experiments that also show people were willing to earn less money to have their predictions confirmed. Two experiments used the confirmation of culturally based gender stereotypes as a basis for study of the reward center of the brain, while the other two used information relating to political figures to show the effect persisted even with personal, idiosyncratic information.

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*Image used is from the original news article published by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. BGU's Dr. Niv Reggev.