Representational image
Representational image

Dominance helps in faster decision making

ANI | Updated: Aug 17, 2018 15:37 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Aug 17 (ANI): Turns out, there is a clear correlation between higher social dominance and faster decision making even outside of a social competition context, a new study reveals.
Hierarchies have existed across all human and animal societies, what behavioral scientists refer to as dominance. Dominant individuals tend to climb higher up the hierarchy ladder of their particular society, earning more access to resources.
But, dominance itself depends partly on the ability to make decisions faster than others. This allows the individual to act first in social situations, which might confer an evolutionary advantage. However, behavioral scientists do not know whether dominant individuals show this fast decision-making outside of social contexts.
The study involved 240 male students at EPFL and the University of Lausanne. The men were divided into high or low dominance groups by a standard "dominance scoring" questionnaire that has been validated in many previous studies. Decision-making speed was measured with five experiments testing the participants' memory, recognition, ability to distinguish emotions, route-learning, and responsiveness.
The first task involved discriminating between emotions seen on various pictures of faces. Then they move onto a memory and recognition task, where they were asked to remember and recognize a series of faces. In the third experiment the participants work on learning and remembering a route, and the fourth, a control experiment, had the participants hit the spacebar on a keyboard as soon as they saw a grey square appear on a screen. In this part of the study, neither group appeared to be faster than the other.
The scientists then carried out a fifth experiment to identify neural signals. The researchers measured brain signals with a high-density electroencephalogram (EEG). The participants were asked to distinguish between happy and sad faces and then angry and neutral faces, while the EEG measured how their brains' electrical signal changed in relation to how fast or slow they performed each task.
This part of the study found that promptness to respond in high-dominance men than in low-dominance men was accompanied by a strikingly amplified brain signal around 240 milliseconds after seeing the faces. In addition, when the researchers analyzed the EEG images of the high-dominance participants, they identified a higher activity in areas of the brain associated with emotion and behavior, compared to low-dominance participants.
The study suggests that high-dominant men respond faster in situations where a choice is needed, regardless of social context. This promptness in decision-making can act as a "biomarker" for social disposition.
The study was carried out by the labs of Carmen Sandi and Michael Herzog at EPFL. The findings were published in the journal 'Cerebral Cortex'. (ANI)