'If you are good, i get better': The role of social hierarchy in perceptual decision-making

Hernando Santamaría-García, Mario Pannunzi, Alba Ayneto, Gustavo Deco, Nuria Sebastián-Gallés

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


So far, it was unclear if social hierarchy could influence sensory or perceptual cognitive processes. We evaluated the effects of social hierarchy on these processes using a basic visual perceptual decision task. We constructed a social hierarchy where participants performed the perceptual task separately with two covertly simulated players (superior, inferior). Participants were faster (better) when performing the discrimination task with the superior player. We studied the time course when social hierarchy was processed using event-related potentials and observed hierarchical effects even in early stages of sensory-perceptual processing, suggesting early top-down modulation by social hierarchy. Moreover, in a parallel analysis, we fitted a drift-diffusion model (DDM) to the results to evaluate the decision making process of this perceptual task in the context of a social hierarchy. Consistently, the DDM pointed to nondecision time (probably perceptual encoding) as the principal period influenced by social hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernst133
Pages (from-to)1489-1497
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Perceptual process
  • Social hierarchy

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