Andy’s Quick Hits (36): Brain differences between agreeable and disagreeable people

Andy Hab
2 min readJul 2, 2021

I wrote post a few days ago (which proved very popular) on how power can make people less caring and more likely to assign blame and punish individuals. The surprise about that research was it was power itself and not individual differences that predicted these less pleasant behaviours.

But there is still the obvious point , that some people are simply more disagreeable, cold, and selfish. We knew that already, but this piece of research looked into the brain mechanisms of this and found some noticeable differences.

What is the difference?

Well the difference is that in the brains those that are cold and disagreeable do not seem to distinguish between social and non social situations. In contrast agreeable people, those nice warm, empathetic people show much larger differentiation. Simply put their brains process social information differently to non social information whereas disagreeable people’s brain do not make a distinction.

Regions of the prefrontal cortex with the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) areas in light blue

This happens in a part of the brain called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) which is involved in representation of the world and processes social situations in different areas.

This makes sense; agreeable people see people as people and their brain processes this differently. Disagreeable people’s brains seem not to distinguish. So the observation that they are cold and treat people as objects is spot on.

Sorry to say though that the researchers didn’t look to any ways of changing this!

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Andy Hab

Sharing fascinating, fun, and important knowledge on the brain and human behaviour - most days. And masters track athlete - still going strong!