In 2007, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Neuroscience and Computational Psychiatry Unit at Baylor College of Medicine hosted a symposium titled “The Scientific Basis of Influence and Reciprocity.”
The event presented a wide array of psychological research on influence and tied it to issues of conflicts of interest and subconscious bias in research and academia.
The symposium’s content are available as a 47-page PDF document, which we highly recommend you add to your library.
- “[In this experiment], ‘sponsorship’ meant that an agent (here a fictitious company) had contributed the subject reimbursement money used to carry out the experiment. At the beginning of the experiment, each subject is exposed to the company’s logo, this sponsorship information, and the amount of money the company is contributing to subject reimbursement for the experiment. The sponsor’s logo was transiently flashed close to the different paintings. The mere presence of the sponsoring logo near a painting changed the passive brain responses to that painting and positively influenced the subject’s preference rating for the painting.”
- “[This experiment] suggested that valuation is affected even if there is no monetary gift at all. The moment you touch the valuation system with a gift or favor, things begin to change.”
- “All of this research suggests that physicians who will personally benefit from recommending a particular drug, treatment, procedure, or clinical trial will have no problem figuring out ways to justify that decision as being in their patients’ interest.”DFPI ADDS: This, too, applies to health professionals who communicate messaging that is more aligned with producers of unhealthy fare than with public health messaging.
- “People have the wrong psychological model of conflict of interest; they believe that succumbing to conflicts of interest is a matter of conscious corruption, whereas unconscious bias is a far more serious problem.”
- “Though disclosure theoretically levels the playing field, in fact it does not really eliminate the problem and may make it worse. Disclosure may give the adviser a ‘moral license’ for strategic exaggeration in the adviser’s best interest. Having disclosed a conflict of interest, moreover, advisors may feel compelled to give advice in an extra-forceful fashion.”