Intervention Cyberball: PloS

Published: 31 July 2019| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/fdhdkdppsf.2
Michael Niedeggen


Raw Data: Loss of control as a violation of expectations: Testing the predictions of a common inconsistency compensation approach in an inclusionary cyberball game Abstract: Personal control relies on the expectation that events are contingent upon one’s own behavior. A common ‘inconsistency compensation approach’ posits that a violation of expectancies in social interaction triggers aversive arousal and compensatory effort. Following this approach, we tested the hypothesis that interventions affecting participants' decisions violate the expected personal control. In a modified version of the established cyberball paradigm, participants were not excluded, but consistently included. However, their decisions regarding the recipient of a ball throw in the virtual game were occasionally overruled (expectancy violation). We hypothesized that this intervention will trigger a P3 response in event-related brain potentials (ERP). Since this component is related to subjective expectancies, its amplitude was assumed to depend on the frequency of interventions (independent factor: loss of control). Further, we manipulated the vertical position of the participants’ avatar on the computer screen (independent factor: verticality). Building on research showing that verticality is related to the self-assigned power and influences the expected level of control, we hypothesized that the ERP effects of intervention should be more pronounced for participants with avatars in superior position. As predicted, both experimental factors interactively affected the expression of the ERP response: In case of low intervention frequency, P3 amplitudes were significantly pronounced if the participants’ avatar was positioned above as compared to below co-players (high > low self-assigned power). The effect of verticality could be traced back to a lack of adaptation of P3 amplitudes to recurring aversive events. By demonstrating that loss of control triggers ERP effects corresponding to those triggered by social exclusion, this study provides further evidence for a common cognitive mechanism in reactions to aversive events based on an inconsistency in expectancy states.


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Freie Universitat Berlin


Cognitive Psychology