Shedding light on why societal trends happen, a new research has shown that birds of a feather do flock together.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute found that people's inherent risk-taking preferences affect how they view and act on information from other people.
The brain scans showed that study participants increased their perceived value of a gamble after seeing other people take that gamble. The neural signals also predicted the likelihood that participants would conform to others' choices.
Senior author Pearl Chiu said that one is likelier to follow the risky decisions of other people if he likes to take risks and one is likelier to follow the cautious decisions of other people if he tends to be cautious.
Chiu added that the choices that others make become more valuable than they would be otherwise and human brains are wired to choose things that are more valuable.
The scientists scanned adult participants' brains as they made gambling choices alone and after seeing what other players picked and observed that both safe and risky choices of other people influenced participants' choices to be safer or riskier than the choices they made alone.
First author Dongil Chung said that no one knows how the gambles will play out, but people still tend to conform to others, adding that the likelihood that you will be nudged depends on how much you value what others say.
The researchers found that this social valuation process occurs in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a brain region known to encode values and rewards.
Risk-takers and risk-averse people live in the same world with the same risky and safe information, as per researchers, it's up to the individual to filter what and how information is actually considered during decision-making processes.