The sense of should: A biologically-based framework for modeling social pressure (2020) Highlights • We develop a model of social pressure, based on the metabolic costs of information. • We propose that conformity regulates the predictability of social environments. • We suggest that the experience of obligation stems from anticipated uncertainty. • We integrate disparate theories of mental inference with an embodied account. • We discuss the emergent consequences of others’ expectations motivating behavior. Abstract What is social pressure, and how could it be adaptive to conform to others’ expectations? Existing accounts highlight the importance of reputation and social sanctions. Yet, conformist behavior is multiply determined: sometimes, a person desires social regard, but at other times she feels obligated to behave a certain way, regardless of any reputational benefit—i.e. she feels a sense of should. We develop a formal model of this sense of should, beginning from a minimal set of biological premises: that the brain is predictive, that prediction error has a metabolic cost, and that metabolic costs are prospectively avoided. It follows that unpredictable environments impose metabolic costs, and in social environments these costs can be reduced by conforming to others’ expectations. We elaborate on a sense of should’s benefits and subjective experience, its likely developmental trajectory, and its relation to embodied mental inference. From this individualistic metabolic strategy, the emergent dynamics unify social phenomenon ranging from status quo biases, to communication and motivated cognition. We offer new solutions to long-studied problems (e.g. altruistic behavior), and show how compliance with arbitrary social practices is compelled without explicit sanctions. Social pressure may provide a foundation in individuals on which societies can be built. Keywords Allostasis Predictive coding Evolution Metabolism Affect Social pressure Full PDF here: https://moralitylab.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/sense-of-should.pdf https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S157106452030004X

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We can’t. We can’t even for ourselves in a reliable manner. When your limbs fall asleep, where do the boundaries of your body go? When you have been drinking or feverish and you are in a crowded place, you can get caught up in the crowd and lose your self integrity You can also get that way when you are lost Following a narrative about something interesting, you can forget your own existence and become the story being told But does a balloon know it’s being popped? There’s a temporal sequence whereby the integrity of the balloon goes away. Is there an experience of losing integrity for objects with physical memory? Well, there are responses such as noises or other physical effects. The air responds to a popping of a balloon Our ear drums respond We react mechanically The balloon reacts mechanically to being popped If your boundary between internal and external changes, how is it registered? How is it registered for a balloon?

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