Neural alignment during outgroup intervention predicts future change of affect towards outgroup

Annika Kluge, Niko Somila, Kaisu Lankinen, Jonathan Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While social psychology studies have shown that paradoxical thinking intervention has a moderating effect on negative attitudes toward members from rival social groups (i.e. outgroup), the neural underpinnings of the intervention have not been studied. Here, we investigate this by examining neural alignment across individuals at different phases during the intervention regarding Covid-19 vaccine-supporters’ attitudes against vaccine-opposers. We raise two questions: Whether neural alignment varies during the intervention, and whether it predicts a change in outgroup attitudes measured via a survey 2 days after the intervention and compared to baseline. We test the neural alignment using magnetoencephalography-recorded neural oscillations and multiset canonical correlation analysis. We find a build-up of neural alignment which emerges at the final phase of the paradoxical thinking intervention in the precuneus—a hub of mentalizing; there was no such effect in the control conditions. In parallel, we find a behavioral build-up of dissent to the interventional stimuli. These neural and behavioral patterns predict a prosocial future change in affect and actions toward the outgroup. Together, these findings reveal a new operational pattern of mentalizing on the outgroup, which can change the way individuals may feel and behave toward members of that outgroup.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbhae125
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • intergroup bias
  • magnetoencephalography
  • multiset canonical correlation analysis
  • paradoxical thinking
  • vaccination attitudes


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