A recent study indicates that the image that our friends have of us in their head when they think of us is quite similar to the idea we have of ourselves
I’m sure you’ve ever wondered what your friends think of you. Now we have a clue what might be going through their heads. What has been proven in a recent experiment using an MRI scanner is that friends’ thinking patterns when asked about your personality look a lot like those that person has when they think of themselves.
At the same time, when participants are asked about a different friend, the activity of their brain changes, and takes the form of that new person’s thoughts on itself.
This came as a surprise to the researchers, as thought patterns could change from person to person when thinking about the same subject, but the coincidence was remarkable. This study was published by the University of Oregon in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study recruited eleven people who were joined by different degrees of friendship and asked to value others, and themselves, in 48 different personality traits: enthusiastic, lonely, critical, confident, willing to help, punctual, friendly, etc. While they were doing so, an MRI scan recorded the activity of different parts of their brains.
MRI does not visualize thoughts, only the active areas of the brain. Unsurprisingly, the prefrontal middle cortex, where the circuits that control other people’s identity and recognition are located, was the most illuminated part. The most curious thing about the experiment was that by overlapping the patterns of several people thinking about someone, we got a more complete picture of the pattern of the person they were thinking about, which could indicate that each of our friends sees some of our personality more clearly than others.