Using Social Neuroscience for investigating online social   interaction and collaboration in the network organization     ...
but has radically transformed the form in which the interaction takes place. People interaction is nowoften mediated by te...
More specifically we propose to apply the neuroscience method to explore two areas: (1) onlineidentity in social systems: ...
account and to other contexts (relaxation and stressful conditions) for a comparison. They found viathe analysis of the ps...
The following subsection presents concrete examples of experiments that are considered for aninvestigation.1) Experiment 1...
Experiment:Observe a group of subjects in different online social contexts, the different elements contributing totheir mo...
Penenberg, Adam L. (2010). Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love, Fast Company,  July 1, 2010 http://www.f...
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2012.03 social neuroscience for investigating social interaction in entreprise social systems-extended abstract-v2

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May 30, 2012

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As of now, the proposed experimentations are just suggested ideas.

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2012.03 social neuroscience for investigating social interaction in entreprise social systems-extended abstract-v2

  1. 1. Using Social Neuroscience for investigating online social interaction and collaboration in the network organization (Social neuroscience informing the design of Enterprise online social and collaborative systems)Thierry NabethKey words: social brain, social neuroscience, social neurocognition, behavioural neuroscience, socialsignal, enterprise social networking, collaboration, social media, organizational design, onlineidentity, online motivation.AbstractThe application of neuroscience for the study of the social process has emerged as a promising field ofinvestigation (Cacioppo & Decety 2011, Adolphs 2009). In this paper we examine how this methodcan more specifically be applied for investigating social interaction and collaboration that is mediatedby the new social systems (such as social networking, microbloging, wikis) that have appeared as partof the web 2.0. In particular this paper explores how these methods can help us on developing ourunderstanding of social interaction and collaboration in an online enterprise context more specificallyin determining: (1) to which extend the human brain is able to accommodate the new online tools; and(2) how the social process and the new modalities of interaction in an online enterprise contextfunction and are handled by the human brain.To do so, we first identify what are the different mechanisms and constituents of interaction happeningonline and offline and how they differ (for instance understanding the functioning of non verbalcommunication online). Then we suggest different neuroscience approach that can potentially be usedto get an understanding of the functioning of the online social process (such as observing socialperception, motivation, the orientation of social attention, or the structural evolution of the brain) andto check the reality of some transformation of the brain (and the emergence of the "Homocyberneticus") induced by the use of these tools.We then propose to apply the neuroscience method to explore two areas: (1) online identity in socialsystems: How online identity is managed by the human brain in online social systems (e.g. forming ofimpression, trust, etc.) ; (2) online motivation: Understanding the different elements intervening inpeople engagement in online social systems (cf. the reward system & online interaction).Introduction and backgroundSociality represents a profound part of human nature (cf. "Man is a social animal" by the philosopherSpinoza): people actions are not only driven by "cold" calculation but are also the result of moreirrational social or emotional components (Akerlof & Shiller 2009) that have their root directly in thecircuitry of the human brain. Human action is therefore often driven by social elements (Walter et al.2005) such as conformance, attitude, powers and territories, or altruism, rather than only themaximization of an optimisation function (Homo sapiens is probably more of a "Homo sociologicus"than of an "Homo economicus"). For managing this social process, the brain relies on a variety ofspecialised and mostly unconscious mechanisms that are activated for assisting human beings in"decoding" the social signals (Vinciarelliet et al 2012; Pentland 2010; Insel & Fernald 2004) andorienting their decisions (Kahneman 2011). Hence different mechanisms such as impressionmanagement (for assessing trust), labelling & attribution (i.e. stereotyping) or presence and attentionmechanisms (for identifying pertinent information) are largely used to assist people in managing theirsocial interactions with others without mobilising too much of conscious cognitive effort.The advent of an information age and of the network organization in which people are more likely toparticipate in distributed teams and communities has not changed the condition of the human nature 1
  2. 2. but has radically transformed the form in which the interaction takes place. People interaction is nowoften mediated by technology, and an important part of social interaction and collaboration happensvia the use of the online social systems (social networking systems, microblogging, wikis, instantmessaging) that have been massively adopted. (note: it should be fair to say that the corporate worldstill shows some sign of reluctance in fully integrating the usage of these tools and in teamworkingonline, but this is one of the reason making investigation of the subject so meaningful). An importantquestion that has arise is how the human "social brain", that has been "elaborated" by the evolutionselection process in the context of "real life" interaction, is able to accommodate to these new "virtual"modalities of interaction that are mediated by the technology. For instance, to which extend are thesenew modalities able to support effectively nonverbal communication that represent an importantcomponent in human communication? Another question is about determining how the different socialelements (such as conformance, territory, power, etc.) and mechanisms (such as perception, labelling,or attention) are being dealt with by human beings in an online world.Amongst the different methods that are available (social science methods, the new "computationalsocial sciences" methods, agent-based modelling etc.), neuroscience represents a very promisingmeans to investigate social process and collaboration online, in particular in the perspective of a socio-cognitive model of social interaction. Neuroscience method is indeed providing us with the possibilityto "sneak" into what is happening in the people head, and to observe phenomenon that are largelyinvisible. In this paper we explores how neuroscience methods can help us on developing ourunderstanding of social interaction and collaboration in an online enterprise context more specifically:(1) in determining to which extend the human brain is able to accommodate the new online tools; Forinstance perception happening online takes a different form which may have some significantimplication in the effectiveness of nonverbal communication (which interaction "in real life"represents an important component of human communication); (2) and to analyse and understand thesocial process and the modalities of interaction happening in online social systems, notably in thecontext of the enterprise. For instance many social processes such as the construction of identity,people expression, the formation of trust, the perception of power and territory, or influence, take adifferent form online. They are also supported by different mechanisms in the "social web" such as thedefinition of online profiles, online conversations (in forum, in blogs, or in microblogging), opinionsystems, activity streams, and other social translucence mechanisms.For our exploration, we first identify what are the different mechanisms and constituents of onlineinteraction and try to put it in perspective to what exists in "real life". For instance we try to see ifsome equivalent of nonverbal communication can be conducted online (examples include the use oflike button in social systems, or of the capture and the display of activity streams), or how peopleexpress their identity online (via their profile or the display of exposure of their actions) in a way thatfollows similar patterns to what happens offline (see the work of the anthropologist Goffman (1959)for a theory for the presentation of identity). We may also identify different categories of populations(e.g. psychological profile or age) and patterns of usage (networkers, curators, etc.).Then we suggest different neuroscience approaches that can potentially be used to get a betterunderstanding of the functioning of the online social process (i.e. perception, reasoning and action inan online social setting) and what are the different part of the brain that are involved. Examples mayinclude the use of neuroscience methods (fMRI, eye-tracking, observation of physiological effectssuch as dilation of the pupil, assessment of salivary hormones (Schultheiss & Stanton 2009) such asoxytocin (Barraza & Zak 2009)) for assessing people emotion, trust (Zak 2008), level of attention,arousal, during the use of online social system. Other research may consist in using imagingtechniques for looking what are the different areas of the brain activated during an interaction (e.g.amygdala, prefrontal cortex, etc.) so as to determine if online social interaction relies on high level(deliberative) or lower level (emotion) functions of the brain or to measure the effect of repeatedexposure of human faces (on the formation of trust). Other imaging techniques may represent a meansfor studying the structure of the brain and its evolution (given brain plasticity) in different categoriesof populations. For instance it may be used for mapping in the brain the different functions that areinvolved in an online social interaction (i.e. some correlation have been found between amygdalavolume and social network size in Humans (Bickart et al. 2011), and specialized social attentioncircuits have been identified). 2
  3. 3. More specifically we propose to apply the neuroscience method to explore two areas: (1) onlineidentity in social systems: How online identity is managed by the human brain in online social systems(e.g. forming of impression, trust, nonverbal communication, etc.); (2) online motivation:Understanding the different elements intervening in people engagement in online social systems (i.e.why people participate in an online social interaction).We expect that such investigation will contribute to develop a better understanding of the socialprocess and work in the network organization (and help to explain its disfunctioning) but also bringingsome insight to the debate on the reality of transformation of the human species into a "Homocyberneticus" (cf. the question of the existence of the Y generation) and the arrival of new "breed" ofemployees.MethodThis investigation will make use of neuroscience methods, and more specifically it will be based onthe measure of human behaviour via the recording of brain activities (e.g. EGG scanning, fMRI),psychophysiological measures (e.g. assessment of salivary hormones, pupil dilatation) or theobservation of behaviours (e.g. via eye tracking).More concretely, this research will start by selecting a set of hypotheses that are representative forassessing (1) the ability for the human to manage the interaction in a online social context, and (2)understanding how the online social interaction process is handled in the human brain. Experimentswill be conducted aiming at collecting factual data that can be used for testing the validity of thesehypotheses. Based on these data, an analysis will then be done, validating or invalidating thesehypothesis, and reflecting about the generalizability of the findings to the more general context ofonline social interaction for the enterprise.Theoretical model?Examples of previous relevant researchThere exists a significant quantity of researches in many disciplines (economics, decision making,marketing, etc.) being conducted today that are using neuroscience method. A much smaller number ofthis research is concerned with the study of collaboration and social interaction in the enterprise, morespecifically on an online context (i.e. using online social systems). This section aims at brieflypresenting some of the relevant research (in relation to online social interaction) that have beenconducted so far.Gary Small and colleagues have explored how the time spend on the internet is changing the verystructure of their brain (Small, Moody, Siddarth & Bookheimer 2009). Practically they have usedfunctional MRI scanning to observe the difference in activation patterns when performing novelInternet search between groups of 24 subjects having a minimal or a significant Internet search engineexperience. They observed that the "Net Savvy group" demonstrated significant increases in signalintensity in additional regions of the brain such as in the ones controlling of decision making orcomplex reasoning. They concluded that experience in search may alter the brain’s responsiveness insome of the brain neural circuits.The neuroeconomist Paul Zak has explored the influence of online social related activities on peoplehormonal level, and therefore on arousal or on mood. To do this he has measured the level ofhormones such as oxytocin (associated to generosity and trust), cortisol and ACTH (associated tobiological stress) of people twitting (Penenberg 2010). The blood analysis shown an example in which10 minutes after the starting of twitting, oxytocin levels spiked more than 10 %, and the stresshormones went down to more between 10% and 15%.Maurizio et al. (2011) have studies the affective experience evoked by SNSs. Specifically, they haverecorded skin conductance, blood volume pulse, electroencephalogram, electromyography, respiratoryactivity, and pupil dilation of a group of subjects (30 students) "exposed" to their personal Facebook 3
  4. 4. account and to other contexts (relaxation and stressful conditions) for a comparison. They found viathe analysis of the psychophysiological data and pupil dilation that the Facebook experience wassignificantly different from the other stress and relaxation contexts. They suggest that SNS mayrepresent a specific positive affective state.Kevin Wise and others measured emotional responses of a group of participants (29 participants)browsing Facebook using of a set of body sensors (i.e. skin-conductance) and facial electromyogram(EMG) (Wise, Alhabash and Park. 2010). They investigated the difference between passive socialbrowsing (i.e., newsfeeds) and extractive social searching (i.e., friends’ profiles). They found thatsocial searching (browsing profiles) was more pleasant and more used than social browsing (browsinginformation).Kuzmanovic et al. (2012) used neuroscience methods to investigate the neural basis of first impressionand more specifically the difference in the processing of verbal and nonverbal social information. 18participants were exposed to verbal stimuli (i.e. sentences) and nonverbal stimuli (3 second videoclips) of other persons and their reaction was recorded using fMRI and analysed (using MATLAB).They found that the processing of nonverbal information was more strongly associated with affectiveprocessing (cf. amygdala) whereas verbal information was associated with more deliberate socialinferential processing (precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex).Finally (for this document), Phan et al. (2011) have explored the functioning of reciprocation in aninteraction. They have measured using fMRI the brain responses of 36 subjects engaged in a repeatedtrust game experiment (participants played the role of an investor who must decide whether to invest20 monetary units). They have observed a signal of reciprocity in the ventral striatum in response topartners who have consistently returned the investment.Research to be conductedThe variety of investigation to be conducted in online social interaction using neuroscience appears tobe potentially very large, first because some of them may simply consist in revisiting previousresearch in the domain of organizational behaviour with a neuroscience approach.Surprisingly little work seems to have been conducted yet in using neuroscience methods forinvestigating collaboration and social interaction in the enterprise. Beyond ethical or legal reasons, thismay be due to the difficulty to conduce experiments in the context of the enterprise: The availability ofthe subjects that would take part of such an experiments may be difficult (this category of populationis busy), may require the testing in an "in-vivo" situation difficult to set-up (complex social dynamichappens in the enterprise), and the cognitive processes to be investigated in an enterprise context maybe complicated to measure.In the case of "online interaction", the difficulty for testing in an "in-vivo" situation may however beeasier to overcome (the working environment does not need to be in the office) and the "recruitment"of participants should be less difficult among a population that is used to work part of their time athome (but this should however be confirmed).The cognitive online social processes candidate for an investigation of the social online process in theentreprise include the following topics: impression and trust (e.g. how people online identity isperceived by the brain, first and lasting impression, emotion, nonverbal communication, etc.);motivation and desire to interact (altruism and intrinsic motivation, addiction, feeling good);psychosociological processes (e.g. how social pressure functions online, how people "reciprocate"online, how territory and power works); social attention (e.g. how people manage their attention onlinesuch as prioritizing the different solicitations); imitation (e.g. is there some situation in which mirrorneurons are activated in online interaction); etc. (conflict, anger, cognitive biase, etc.)In these different case research may look about the mechanisms in the social systems that are used tosupport these processes (e.g. social translucence mechanisms), and what are the different circuits ofthe brain that are activated during the interaction (e.g. the more emotional circuits such as amygdala orthe more deliberative ones such as the prefrontal cortex, as well as the reward system). Explorationmay also be conducted on the category of population (e.g. age, gender, social category). 4
  5. 5. The following subsection presents concrete examples of experiments that are considered for aninvestigation.1) Experiment 1: Online identity perception (impression, trust).Background:An important function of social systems is the existence on an online identity, i.e. how the differentparticipants are perceived. This identity can be expressed by its owner via his/her profile, whichcontains description, photography, etc. This identity is also expressed by the owner activities (andavailable via his activity feeds) but also by others (for instance expressing the popularity of theperson).For instance identity is an critical ingredient in the social process, since it is used in the formation oftrust which play an important role in the establishment and the development of a relationship. Identitymay also represent a significant element in people desire to engage and pursuit a relationship.Objective:The objective of this first experiment is to investigate using neuroscience method how people identityis perceived online, and its implication on trust (first impression, lasting impression), habituation(reduction of perceived social distance), leadership, etc. For instance we will be interested tounderstand what are the circuit of the brain (emotional or deliberative) involved in the formation on animpression online, and for instance how the brain is processing nonverbal communication (i.e.information which aim is not aimed at directly conveying content such as a conversation).Experiment:Observe a group of subjects in different online social contexts (e.g. internal social networking, internalcommunity, public social network site or wiki) that are asked to access identity information (peopleprofiles, activity stream, interactions with others, popularity) of a group of users (that they know or donot known). Measures are to be conducted on the different mechanisms that are activated when peopleacquire identity information.This experiment may also investigate the influence of repeated exposure of human faces in socialsystems (continuing the work of Kapoor, Konstan & Terveen (2005)), how online habituation works(further developing the work of Breiter et al. (2009)) and how the different components of identity(e.g. emotion, social status) can be effectively transmitted in online systems.2) Experiment 2: Motivation (testing the reward system in onlineinteraction).Background:A very important aspect in collaboration and social exchange in a serious context is related to thewillingness of people to participate. The relative failure of traditional knowledge management systemcan indeed probably due to the difficulty to engage people participation. An observation of the recentpractice in social media at large and phenomenon (such as what can be observe on Facebook withnarcissisms or addiction) seems to indicate that the nature of the experience to be totally different thanin the past, and that participation may be driven by more intrinsic motives than by more extrinsicreasons (conformance to orders, incentives).Objective:The objective of this second line of experiment is to investigate the motivational aspects that areinvolved in people adopting online social systems. 5
  6. 6. Experiment:Observe a group of subjects in different online social contexts, the different elements contributing totheir motivation, and in particular look at how the brain reward system is activated (e.g. socialinteraction, fulfilment, etc.) when conducting an online social activities. This experiment may look atthe different effects such as instant satisfaction (feeling good), delayed satisfaction, extraversion (e.g.egotism and narcissism), self-efficacy, of desire for social bonding (or fear of rejection).3) Other experiments (attention, influence, etc.).A variety of other experiments could be conducted to further explore the mechanisms involved in aonline social interaction. Topics to investigate may include online social attention (e.g. how the braindeals with social interaction, and in particular filter and process the information or multitask),collaboration and interaction dynamics (e.g. obligation to reciprocate), social decision making (e.g.group creativity ), etc.Finally other experiments may be conducted to observe the difference in the brain circuits of peoplehaving a different social networking activities, so as to investigate the importance of brain plasticitywhen using these systems.ReferencesAdolphs R. (2009). The social brain: neural basis of social knowledge. Annu Rev Psychol. 60 : 693- 716Akerlof, George A. and Robert J. Shiller. (2009). Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University PressBarraza, J. A. & Zak, P. J. 2009. Empathy toward strangers triggers oxytocin release and subsequent generosity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1167: 182-189Bickart KC, Wright CI, Dautoff RJ, Dickerson BC, Barrett LF (2011). Amygdala volume and social network size in humans. Nat Neurosci. 2011 February ; 14(2): 163–164.Breiter, H. C., Etcoff, N. L., Whalen, P. J., Kennedy, W. A., Rauch, S. L., Buckner, R. L., Strauss, M. M., Hyman, S. E., and Rosen, B. R. (2009). Response and habituation of the amygdala during processing of emotional prosody. NeuroReport 20, 875-887.Cacioppo, J. T., & Decety, J. (2011). Social neuroscience: challenges and opportunities in the study of complex behavior. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 122 4: 162-173.Goffman, Erving (1959): The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, University of Edinburgh Social Sciences Research Centre. ISBN 978-0-14-013571-8. Anchor Books editionInsel Thomas R. and Fernald Russell D. (2004). How the brain processes social information: searching for the social brain. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 2004. 27:697–722Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow, Penguin Books, Limited, 2011Kapoor, N.; Konstan, J.A.; Terveen, L.G. (2005). How Peer Photos Influence Member Participation in Online Communities. ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Portland, OR, (2005)Kuzmanovic B, Bente G, von Cramon DY, Schilbach L, Tittgemeyer M, Vogeley K. (2012). Imaging first impressions: Distinct neural processing of verbal and nonverbal social information. Neuroimage 60(1):179-188Maurizio, Mauri; Pietro Cipresso, Anna Balgera, Marco Villamira, Giuseppe Riva (2011). Why Is Facebook So Successful? Psychophysiological Measures Describe a Core Flow State While Using Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2011; 14 (12): 723Phan, K., Sripada, C., Angstadt, M. & McCabe, K. (2011). Reputation for reciprocity engages the brain reward center. Proceedings for the National Academy of Science 2011: 107 (29):13099-13104 6
  7. 7. Penenberg, Adam L. (2010). Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love, Fast Company, July 1, 2010 http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/147/doctor-love.htmlPentland, Alex (2010) To Signal Is Human, American Scientist, Vol. 98, pp. 204-210Schultheiss OC, Stanton SJ (2009). Assessment of salivary hormones. In: Harmon-Jones E, Beer JS, editors. Methods in social neuroscience. New York: Guilford. pp. 17–44.Small GW, Moody TD, Siddarth P, Bookheimer SY. (2009). Your brain on Google: patterns of cerebral activation during internet searching. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 17 (2) : 116-26.Vinciarelli A., M. Pantic, Heylen D., Pelachaud C., Poggi I., and DÉrrico F. (2012). Bridging the Gap Between Social Animal and Unsocial Machine: A Survey of Social Signal Processing. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 2012Walter Henrik, Abler Birgit, Ciaramidaro Angela, Erk Susanne (2005). Motivating forces of human actions: Neuroimaging reward and social interaction. Brain Research Bulletin, 67 (5) : 368-381Wise K., S. Alhabash and H. Park. (2010). Emotional Responses during Social Information Seeking on Facebook. CyberPsychology and BehaviorZak, P. J. (2008). The neurobiology of trust. Scientific American, June: 88-95. 7

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