Do you always agree to your friends?

Updated: Mar 07, 2011, 13:22 PM IST

London: Conforming to others` views can cause a real shift in your own opinion, say scientists.

To come to this conclusion, Jamil Zaki at Harvard University and colleagues asked men to rate how attractive they found a series of photos of women``s faces, reports the New Scientist.

The men were then given the average rating for each photo, said to be determined by a previous group. In reality, these ratings were randomly generated by a computer.

Thirty minutes later, the participants reassessed the same photos while having their brains scanned using fMRI.

As expected, the men`s ratings changed to match the consensus scores more closely.

However, Zaki`s team found that if the participant decided a woman was more attractive than they first thought, there was a spike of activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens; if they decided she was not as pretty, activity decreased in these areas.

Previous research has shown that the higher the activity in these brain regions, the more a person values a certain stimulus.

In other words, the researchers argue, the participants were not just modifying their appraisals for the sake of appearances: the so-called average results had genuinely changed their opinion of the photos.

The work will appear in Psychological Science.