I feel good whether my friends win or my foes lose: Brain mechanisms underlying feeling similarity

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Abstract

People say they enjoy both seeing a preferred social group succeed and seeing an adversary social group fail. At the same time, they state they dislike seeing a preferred social group fail and seeing an adversary social group succeed. The current magnetic resonance imaging study investigated whether—and if so, how—such similarities in reported feeling states are reflected in neural activities. American football fans anticipated success and failure situations for their favorite or their adversary teams. The data support the idea that feeling similarities and divergences expressed in verbal reports carry with them significant neural similarities and differences, respectively. Desired (favorite team likely to win and adversary team likely to lose) rather than undesired (favorite team likely to lose and adversary team likely to win) outcomes were associated with heightened activity in the supramarginal gyrus, posterior cingulate cortex, insula, and cerebellum. Precuneus activity additionally distinguished anticipated desirable outcomes for favorite versus adversary teams.

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