People and Places (05-31-19)

Our opinions of people influence our evaluations of places.  Assessments of familiar individuals transfer to imagined places that are linked to them; knowing about this tie may be useful when synthesizing research findings, for example.   Benoit, Paulus, and Schacter found that “Humans have the adaptive capacity for imagining hypothetical episodes. Such episodic simulation is based on a neural network. . . . This network draws on existing knowledge (e.g., of familiar people and places) to construct imaginary events (e.g., meeting with the person at that place). . . . . In two experiments, we demonstrate how imagining meeting liked versus disliked people (unconditioned stimuli, UCS) at initially neutral places (conditioned stimuli, CS) changes the value of these places. . . . attitude changes induced by the liked UCS are based on a transfer of positive affective value between the representations (i.e., from the UCS to the CS). . . . mere imaginings shape attitudes towards elements (i.e., places) from our real-life environment.”

Roland Benoit, Philipp Paulus, and Daniel Schacter. 2019.  “Forming Attitudes Via Neural Activity Supporting Affective Episodic Simulations.”  Nature Communications, vol. 10, article number 2215, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09961-w