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Neural evidence of motivational conflict between social values

Leszkowicz, E.; Linden, D.E.J.; Maio, G.R.; Ihssen, N.

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E. Leszkowicz

D.E.J. Linden

G.R. Maio


Motivational interdependence is an organizing principle in Schwartz’s circumplex model of social values, which has received abundant cross-cultural support. We used fMRI to test whether motivational relations between social values predict different brain responses in a situation of choice between values. We hypothesized that differences in brain responses would become evident when the more important value had to be selected in pairs of congruent (e.g., wealth and success) as opposed to incongruent (e.g., curiosity and stability) values as they are described in Schwartz’s model, because the former serve mutually facilitating motives, whereas the latter serve mutually inhibiting motives. Consistent with the model, choosing between congruent values led to longer response times and more activation in conflict-related brain regions (e.g., the supplementary motor area, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) than selecting between incongruent values. These results provide novel neural evidence supporting the circumplex model’s predictions about motivational interdependence between social values. In particular, our results show that the neural networks underlying social values are organized in a way that allows activation patterns related to motivational similarity between congruent values to be dissociated from those related to incongruent values.


Leszkowicz, E., Linden, D., Maio, G., & Ihssen, N. (2016). Neural evidence of motivational conflict between social values. Social Neuroscience, 12(5), 494-505.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 24, 2016
Online Publication Date May 19, 2016
Publication Date May 19, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 19, 2017
Journal Social Neuroscience
Print ISSN 1747-0919
Electronic ISSN 1747-0927
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 5
Pages 494-505


Accepted Journal Article (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Social Neuroscience on 19/05/2016, available online at:

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