Blend in or stand out: social anxiety levels shape information-sharing strategies

Silina Zaatri, Idan M. Aderka, Uri Hertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although living in social groups provides many benefits for group members, such groups also serve as a setting for social competition over rank and influence. Evolutionary accounts suggest that social anxiety plays a role in regulating in-group conflict, as individuals who are concerned about social threat may choose to defer to others to maintain the hierarchical status quo. Here, we examine how social anxiety levels are related to the advice-giving style an individual adopts: a competitive influence-seeking strategy or a defensive blend-in strategy. We begin by demonstrating that similarity to others drives activity in the brain's valuation system, even during a competitive advice-taking task. Then, in three behavioural experiments, we show that social anxiety levels are related to the tendency to give advice resembling the advice given by rival advisers and to refrain from status-seeking behaviour. Social anxiety was also associated with negative social comparisons with rival advisers. Our findings highlight the role of competing social goals in shaping information sharing.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number20220476
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1975
StatePublished - 25 May 2022


  • advice giving
  • information sharing
  • social anxiety
  • social influence
  • social motivation
  • ventral striatum

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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