Article

The Neural Substrates of In-Group Bias

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Abstract

Classic minimal-group studies found that people arbitrarily assigned to a novel group quickly display a range of perceptual, affective, and behavioral in-group biases. We randomly assigned participants to a mixed-race team and used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify brain regions involved in processing novel in-group and out-group members independently of preexisting attitudes, stereotypes, or familiarity. Whereas previous research on intergroup perception found amygdala activity--typically interpreted as negativity--in response to stigmatized social groups, we found greater activity in the amygdala, fusiform gyri, orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsal striatum when participants viewed novel in-group faces than when they viewed novel out-group faces. Moreover, activity in orbitofrontal cortex mediated the in-group bias in self-reported liking for the faces. These in-group biases in neural activity were not moderated by race or by whether participants explicitly attended to team membership or race, a finding suggesting that they may occur automatically. This study helps clarify the role of neural substrates involved in perceptual and affective in-group biases.

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... Interestingly, minimal group effects can be elicited despite using mixed-race minimal groups, suggesting that minimal group categorization can overturn race-based biases (Van Bavel & Cunningham, 2009, 2012. Such cross-categorization of race and minimal groups has been shown to override race bias in various domains including neural processing of faces (Van Bavel et al., 2008, attention to and memory of faces , and implicit evaluation (Van Bavel & Cunningham, 2009, 2012. We will extend these results by using the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998), the best-known measure of implicit bias. ...
... The current research aims to contribute to the literature on social re-categorization by making race orthogonal to minimal groups, which we induced using a group memorization paradigm (Van Bavel et al., 2008). We chose this paradigm because it engenders strong grouping effects while creating true minimal groups that do not interact, share history, or choose their affiliations (Hewstone et al., 2002;Pinter & Greenwald, 2011;Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). ...
... The current research aims to contribute to the literature on social re-categorization by making race orthogonal to minimal groups, which we induced using a group memorization paradigm (Van Bavel et al., 2008). We chose this paradigm because it engenders strong grouping effects while creating true minimal groups that do not interact, share history, or choose their affiliations (Hewstone et al., 2002;Pinter & Greenwald, 2011;Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). We tested its effects on well-established measures of implicit and explicit bias, as well as neural processing. ...
Article
Racial prejudice is a pervasive and pernicious form of intergroup bias. However, a mounting number of studies show that recategorization—even into minimal groups—can overcome the typical consequences of racial and other group classifications. We tested the effects of minimal grouping on implicit prejudice and infrahumanization using a paradigm in which race was orthogonal to group membership. This allowed us to examine whether knowledge of group membership overrides obvious category differences. We found that participants infrahumanized and showed implicit bias toward the minimal outgroup, despite the cross-cutting presence of race, and in fact did not show any of the usual implicit racial bias. In addition, event-related potentials (ERPs) showed an early race effect followed by distinct reactions on the basis of group as processing continued. This is evidence that arbitrary social classifications can engender ingroup preference even in the presence of orthogonal, visually salient categorizations.
... via a priming process (Ratner and Amodio, 2013). An fMRI study investigated neural activity for neutral face perception of minimal ingroup vs. minimal outgroup members while each group equally consisted of both, black and white colored faces: using an uncorrected threshold, the authors revealed enhanced neural activity for minimal ingroup compared to minimal outgroup neutral face perception in the amygdala, fusiform gyri, orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsal striatum-which was not moderated by the implicit racial group factor (Bavel et al., 2008). In a subsequent study the same authors could reveal enhanced neural activity by minimal group membership in a fusiform face area region of interest (ROI) ( Van Bavel et al., 2011). ...
... Such a relation would also make plausible that this effect did not survive when the presented faces of the racial outgroup were familiar to the participants (Phelps et al., 2000). Furthermore, enhanced amygdala activation for the perception of minimal ingroup faces was independent of an additional (implicit) racial group factor (Bavel et al., 2008). This emphasizes the importance of contextual factors, such as the social relevance of a group, for effects of group membership (Bavel et al., 2008). ...
... Furthermore, enhanced amygdala activation for the perception of minimal ingroup faces was independent of an additional (implicit) racial group factor (Bavel et al., 2008). This emphasizes the importance of contextual factors, such as the social relevance of a group, for effects of group membership (Bavel et al., 2008). Social factors i.e., the 'need to belong' or previous social exclusion led to an amplified ingroup bias in memory to minimal ingroup compared to outgroup faces ( Van Bavel et al., 2012). ...
Article
Introduction: Empathic behavior and related neural processing are strongly modified by group membership. Shared neural circuits for the production and perception of facial emotional expressions represent mirror neuron mechanisms which play a pivotal role for empathy. In this study, we investigate the influence of group membership on mirror neuron mechanisms for emotional facial expressions. Methods: In a functional magnetic resonance imaging task, 178 healthy subjects perceived emotional and neutral facial expressions of artificial ingroup and outgroup members, displayed as 5 s video clips, and produced these facial expressions themselves. Before scanning, artificial group membership was manipulated ad-hoc through a minimal group paradigm. Results: Shared neural activity for emotional facial expression production and perception was revealed in a large network with right-hemispheric preponderance encompassing motor mirror neuron regions, i.e., inferior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor area and middle temporal gyrus, in addition to limbic regions, i.e., amygdala, hippocampus, para-hippocampus, and insula. Within this network there was greater neural activation for ingroup compared to outgroup members in temporal poles, amygdalae, the left insula, the left inferior frontal gyrus, and the inferior and middle temporal gyrus, the right hippocampus and parahippocampus. Discussion: We validate and extend knowledge on brain regions with mirror neuron properties. Most crucially, we provide evidence for the influence of group membership on regions within the mirror neuron system, indicating more neural resonance (mirroring) for ingroup facial emotional expressions.
... The rapid processing of race occurs even when race information is irrelevant to current goals, suggesting that the encoding of race often occurs in a bottom-up, automatic fashion (Colombatto & McCarthy, 2017;Ito & Urland, 2003;Kubota & Ito, 2007. Functional neuroimaging (fMRI) studies examining the processing of race have focused in part on the Fusiform Face Area (FFA), a brain region associated with early and rapid visual processing of faces (Kanwisher et al., 1997;McCarthy et al., 1997) and social categories (Van Bavel et al., 2008). Several studies provide evidence that the FFA distinguishes between same-versus other-race faces in both the magnitude and spatial representation of neural activity (Brosch et al., 2013;Contreras et al., 2013;Golby et al., 2001;Hughes et al., 2019;Kaul et al., 2014;Levin & Banaji, 2006;Natu et al., 2011;Ofan et al., 2011Ofan et al., , 2014Ratner et al., 2013;Reggev et al., 2020). ...
... Although past research has examined perceptual and cognitive processes to out-group faces in passive viewing tasks (Cunningham et al., 2004;Lieberman et al., 2005;Richeson et al., , 2005, categorization paradigms (Cassidy & Krendl, 2016Ratner et al., 2013;Ronquillo et al., 2007;Stolier & Freeman, 2016;Van Bavel et al., 2008), and in threatening contexts (Correll et al., 2002), less work has examined whether task-embedded race information directly diminishes cognitive control to cues in more benign contexts. Furthermore, many of the relevant neuroimaging studies to date have included relatively small samples and/or predominately non-black samples (Brown et al., 2017;Hart et al., 2000;Mathur et al., 2012), which preclude differentiation of effects driven by race of stimuli (e.g., all individuals regardless of their race showing a bias toward Black faces) versus out-group membership (i.e., White individuals show biased behavior to Black faces and Black individuals show biased behavior to White faces). ...
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The race of an individual is a salient physical feature that is rapidly processed by the brain and can bias our perceptions of others. How the race of others explicitly impacts our actions toward them during intergroup contexts is not well understood. In the current study, we examined how task-irrelevant race information influences cognitive control in a go/no-go task in a community sample of Black (n = 54) and White (n = 51) participants. We examined the neural correlates of behavioral effects using functional magnetic resonance imaging and explored the influence of implicit racial attitudes on brain-behavior associations. Both Black and White participants showed more cognitive control failures, as indexed by dprime, to Black versus White faces, despite the irrelevance of race to the task demands. This behavioral pattern was paralleled by greater activity to Black faces in the fusiform face area, implicated in processing face and in-group information, and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, associated with resolving stimulus-response conflict. Exploratory brain-behavior associations suggest different patterns in Black and White individuals. Black participants exhibited a negative association between fusiform activity and response time during impulsive errors to Black faces, whereas White participants showed a positive association between lateral OFC activity and cognitive control performance to Black faces when accounting for implicit racial associations. Together our findings propose that attention to race information is associated with diminished cognitive control that may be driven by different mechanisms for Black and White individuals.
... In turn, correspondence between one's self-representation and their representations of others tends to be highly consequential for behavior (e.g., Tajfel & Turner, 1979). For instance, individuals frequently favor those who they deem more similar to themselves, behaving in accordance to evolutionary and developmentally conserved drives to reward, and affiliate with, similar others (Hamlin, Mahajan, Liberman, & Wynn, 2013;Pun, Ferera, Diesendruck, Hamlin, & Baron, 2018;Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). ...
... How similarly one judges another person to be to oneself can significantly impact social perception, intergroup dynamics and moral judgments (Hackel, Zaki, & Van Bavel, 2017;Tajfel & Turner, 1979;Van Bavel et al., 2008;Yoder & Decety, 2018). However, less is known about how judgments of self-other similarity affect social decision making. ...
Article
Humans make decisions across a variety of social contexts. Though social decision-making research has blossomed in recent decades, surprisingly little is known about whether social decision-making preferences are consistent across different domains. We conducted an exploratory study in which participants made choices about 2 types of close others: parents and friends. To elicit decision making preferences, we pit the interests in parents and friends against one another. To assess the consistency of preferences for close others, decision making was assessed in three domains-risk taking, probabilistic learning, and self-other similarity judgments. We reasoned that if social decision-making preferences are consistent across domains, participants ought to exhibit the same preference in all three domains (i.e., a parent preference, based on prior work), and individual differences in preference magnitude ought to be conserved across domains within individuals. A combination of computational modeling, random coefficient regression, and traditional statistical tests revealed a robust parent-over-friend preference in the risk taking and probabilistic learning domains but not the self-other similarity domain. Preferences for parent-over-friend in the risk-taking domain were strongly associated with similar preferences in the probabilistic learning domain but not the self-other similarity domain. These results suggest that distinct and dissociable value-based and social-cognitive computations underlie social decision making. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... Specifically, using the minimal group manipulations (Van Bavel et al., 2008;Sheng and Han, 2012) that produced fellow and opponent teams consisting of both same-race and other-race faces, we found that G/G carriers of OXTR exhibited empathic neural responses in the P2 time window to same-race faces, regardless of whether these faces were from the fellow or opponent team. G/G carriers also showed significant empathic neural responses in the P2 time window to other-race faces from the fellow team. ...
... Finally, a previous fMRI study found greater activity in the amygdala, fusiform gyri, orbitofrontal cortex and dorsal striatum when participants viewed novel in-group faces than when they viewed novel out-group faces even though both the novel ingroup and the novel out-group consisted of half same-race and half other-race faces (Van Bavel et al., 2008). These findings suggest that mini group identity can override racial identity in the modulation of brain activities related to perceptual and emotional processing of faces. ...
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Empathic neural responses to others' suffering are subject to both social and biological influences. The present study tested the hypothesis that empathic neural responses to others' pain are more flexible in an intergroup context in G/G than A/A carriers of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) (rs53576). We recorded event-related brain potentials to painful vs neutral expressions of Asian and Caucasian faces that were assigned to a fellow team or an opponent team in Chinese carriers of G/G or A/A allele of OXTR. We found that G/G carriers showed greater neural responses at 136-176 ms (P2) over the frontal/central region to painful vs neutral expressions of faces with shared either racial or mini group identity. In contrast, A/A carriers showed significant empathic neural responses in the P2 time window only to the faces with both shared racial and mini group identity. Moreover, the racial in-group bias in empathic neural responses varied across individuals' empathy traits and ethnic identity for G/G but not A/A carriers. Our findings provide electrophysiological evidence for greater flexibility of empathic neural responses in intergroup contexts in G/G (vs A/A) carriers of OXTR and suggest interactions between OXTR and intergroup relationships on empathy for others' suffering.
... However, neuroimaging studies involving social categorization based on minimal groups (e.g., red team vs. blue team) have demonstrated greater amygdala activation in response to ingroup members (Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). These results suggest that the specific type of social grouping under consideration (i.e., race vs. minimal group) may influence the neural regions engaged during social cognition across group lines Van Bavel et al., 2008). ...
... However, neuroimaging studies involving social categorization based on minimal groups (e.g., red team vs. blue team) have demonstrated greater amygdala activation in response to ingroup members (Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). These results suggest that the specific type of social grouping under consideration (i.e., race vs. minimal group) may influence the neural regions engaged during social cognition across group lines Van Bavel et al., 2008). These inconsistencies are further complicated by the fact that individual neuroimaging studies are more prone to Type I errors due to small sample sizes and insufficient statistical corrections (Wager, Lindquist, & Kaplan, 2007). ...
Article
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Roughly twenty years of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have investigated the neural correlates underlying engagement in social cognition (e.g., empathy, emotion perception) about targets spanning various social categories (e.g., race, gender). Yet findings from individual studies remain mixed. In the present quantitative functional neuroimaging meta-analysis, we summarized across 50 fMRI studies of social cognition to identify consistent differences in neural activation as a function of whether the target of social cognition was an ingroup or outgroup member. We investigated if such differences varied according to social category (i.e., race) and social cognitive process (i.e., empathy, emotion perception). We found that social cognition about ingroup members was more reliably related to activity in brain regions associated with mentalizing (e.g., dmPFC), whereas social cognition about outgroup members was more reliably related to activity in regions associated with exogenous attention and salience (e.g., anterior insula). These findings replicated for studies specifically focused on the social category of race, and we further found intergroup differences in neural activation during empathy and emotion perception tasks. These results help shed light on the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition across group lines.
... Overall, our results align with research showing that people tend to favor their ingroups and orient toward other ingroup members. Information on ingroup members has been found to trigger greater in-depth processing reflected in neuronal activity (Bavel et al., 2008). People also show better performance in remembering information somehow associated with an ingroup, even if this association is incidental rather than substantial (Jeon et al., 2021). ...
Article
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Providing potential donors with information about the behavior of others (i.e., social information) is an increasingly used strategy to nudge prosocial decision-making. In the present study, we investigated the effect of ingroup vs. outgroup information on participants' charity preferences by applying a Drift Diffusion Model (DDM) approach. In a joint evaluation scenario, we manipulated different levels of ingroup/outgroup preference ratios for two charities within subjects. Every subject was presented with three stimulus types (i.e., high, medium, and low ingroup ratio) randomized in 294 trials divided into six blocks. We expected that for stimuli with a high ingroup/outgroup ratio, participants should more often and faster decide for the ingroup's most favored charity. We expected that the speed of evidence accumulation will be higher the larger the ingroup/outgroup ratio. Additionally, we investigated whether variations in model parameters can explain individual differences in participants' behaviors. Our results showed that people generally followed ingroup members' preferences when deciding for a charity. However, on finding an unexpected pattern in our results, we conducted post-hoc analyses which revealed two different behavioral strategies used by participants. Based on participants' decisions, we classified them into “equality driven” individuals who preferred stimuli with the least difference between ingroup and outgroup percentages or “ingroup driven” individuals who favored stimuli with the highest ingroup/outgroup ratio. Results are discussed in line with relevant literature, and implications for practitioners are given.
... Furthermore, psychological models of group effects on person evaluation highlight the importance of studying group membership effects on person evaluation for familiar individuals to build on previous research on group effects on novel person evaluation (Molenberghs & Louis, 2018;Van Bavel et al., 2008Freeman et al., 2010;Tamir & Mitchell, 2010;Ito & Bartholow, 2009;Beer et al., 2008;Harris & Fiske, 2007). When someone must evaluate a novel individual on the basis of a group label or a photograph, their evaluation process is limited because they have no actual knowledge of the person. ...
Article
The mentalizing network is theorized to play a central role in making sense of people (compared with nonsocial targets), but is its involvement affected when we make sense of people in a nondispassionate manner (e.g., favoritism toward others on the basis of group membership)? First, mixed findings and small samples have prevented strong conclusions about whether intergroup evaluation increases or decreases activation regions associated with the mentalizing network. Second, little is known about the psychological mechanism underlying mentalizing network activation shaped by ingroup versus outgroup evaluations. Psychological models suggest two hypotheses that can be challenging to disentangle with self-report: Ingroup trait evaluations may benefit from a priori expectations and/or preferential evidence accumulation. Therefore, the current study ( n = 50) drew on a combination of drift diffusion modeling and fMRI to examine how group membership affects the engagement of the mentalizing network for trait evaluation and whether group-differentiated activation is associated with a priori expectations and/or preferential evidence accumulation. Outgroup trait evaluations engaged dorsomedial pFC activation, whereas ingroup trait evaluations engaged ventromedial pFC activation as well as other regions associated with mentalizing such as precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and right TPJ. Furthermore, the ventromedial pFC and posterior cingulate cortex activation was associated with differential expectations applied to ingroup trait evaluation. The current findings demonstrate the importance of combining motivational factors, computational modeling, and fMRI to deepen our understanding of the neural basis of person evaluation.
... For over four decades, researchers have demonstrated this bias in multiple research paradigms and groups. Even though the exposure to the own-group versus other-group faces was newly learned (meaning the participants had never viewed the photos prior to the research study) and the experimentally created minimal groups were brief, the ORB prevailed (Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008). ...
Article
In a between-subjects’ experimental design, we manipulated whether participants viewed an educational video on the importance of Silver Alerts before viewing an older Caucasian female in a Silver Alert. We also examined associations of target recognition with individual difference variables, including gender, ethnicity, Attitudes Towards Older People (ATOP), empathy, conscientiousness, as well as contact and experience with older adults. The results showed an advantage of the priming condition compared to the no-priming condition for correctly identifying the missing woman. Additionally, females correctly identified the missing woman more than males, and Caucasian participants correctly identified the missing woman more than African American participants. Lastly, participants who reported more experience with older adults were more likely to recognize the missing woman. The results suggest that preceding Silver Alerts with information about their importance may increase their effectiveness. Further research is needed to investigate how individual difference variables relate to recognition of missing senior citizens.
... Perceived group membership and attitudes toward the ingroup or outgroup member also contribute to empathy-related behaviors towards the ingroup members (Hein et al., 2010). This ingroup empathy bias is modulated in the anterior insula cortex, a region related to the impact of group membership on neural correlates of fear (Haaker et al., 2016;Olsson et al., 2005) and face processing (Golby et al., 2001;Hein et al., 2010;Van Bavel et al., 2008). In contrast to empathy-related in-group bias, while watching a negatively evaluated outgroup member suffering pain, the activity of the anterior insula cortex (associated with empathy) has been found to be decreased, and activity in NAcc (associated with reward processing) was increased, suggesting that watching a negatively evaluated outgroup member receiving pain was processed in a reward-related manner (Hein et al., 2010). ...
Article
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The social environment presents the human brain with the most complex of information processing demands. The computations that the brain must perform occur in parallel, combine social and nonsocial cues, produce verbal and non-verbal signals, and involve multiple cognitive systems; including memory, attention, emotion, learning. This occurs dynamically and at timescales ranging from milliseconds to years. Here, we propose that during social interactions, seven core operations interact to underwrite coherent social functioning; these operations accumulate evidence efficiently – from multiple modalities – when inferring what to do next. We deconstruct the social brain and outline the key components entailed for successful human social interaction. These include (1) social perception; (2) social inferences, such as mentalizing; (3) social learning; (4) social signaling through verbal and non-verbal cues; (5) social drives (e.g., how to increase one’s status); (6) determining the social identity of agents, including oneself; and (7) minimizing uncertainty within the current social context by integrating sensory signals and inferences. We argue that while it is important to examine these distinct aspects of social inference, to understand the true nature of the human social brain, we must also explain how the brain integrates information from the social world.
... There is an extensive body of neuroscientific literature attesting to the powerful effect of the in-group/outgroup divide (see, e.g. Avenanti et al. 2010;Balliet and Wu 2014;Bruneau and Saxe 2010;Chiao and Mathur 2010;Cikara et al. 2011;Cikara and Van Bavel 2014;De Vignemont and Singer 2006;Fiske 2000;Gutsell and Inzlicht 2012;Han and Northoff 2008;Hein et al. 2010;Phelps et al. 2000;Richeson et al. 2003;Van Bavel et al. 2008;Xu et al. 2009). ...
Chapter
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Religious communities exhibit many features of complex adaptive systems (CASs). They are open systems whose global features nonlinearly emerge from the interactions of their components, are complexly internally structured, and must adaptively respond to continual perturbations in their environments. This chapter presents a system dynamics model (SDM) of a generic religious organization represented as a CAS. The simulated community extracts energy from an ecological resource base and expends energy on distinct, mutually exclusive goals: reproduction, energy-seeking, and ritual. Although energy that is spent on ritual cannot be spent on utilitarian objectives, ritual performance increases the perceived legitimacy of the religious system, thereby motivating higher levels of cooperation. Low levels of perceived legitimacy can trigger a switch to a charismatic version of authority. In experiments, we found that many simulated communities maximized their populations by outstripping their resource base shortly before collapsing, in a classic example of boom-and-bust ecological overshoot. However, certain communities showed greater longevity if the Charisma parameter was maximized. We interpret our results to suggest that increasing social flexibility in response to crises of legitimacy may contribute to the resilience of certain types of social, including religious, systems.
... This recognition of others as in-or outgroup members has a robust, general effect on the perceptions and evaluations of others by displaying a preference for ingroup over outgroup members -or ingroup bias (Turner et al., 1979;Tajfel and Turner, 1986;Brown, 2019). Consequently, people tend to process information more deeply about their ingroup as opposed to any outgroup (Van Bavel et al., 2008). Additionally, people generally recall more unfavorable information about outgroup than about ingroup members (Howard and Rothbart, 1980). ...
Article
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The influence of group membership on perceptions of outgroup members has been extensively studied in various contexts. This research has indicated a strong tendency for ingroup bias – preferring the ingroup over the outgroup. We seek to further expand on the growing literature regarding the effects of group membership within healthcare contexts. Focusing on the Arab-Jewish context in Israel, the present study explored the influence of group membership on Israeli-Jewish participants’ evaluations when exposed to potential malpractice. Specifically, participants ( n = 165) read a description of an Israeli-Jewish or Israeli-Arab physician who was either culpable or non-culpable of malpractice. Consistent with our predictions, findings generally indicated more negative evaluations of the Israeli-Arab physician, regardless of objective culpability. We conclude by discussing the study’s limitations and implications.
... While semantic knowledge in general is primarily represented in the anterior temporal lobe, with modality-specific extensions into sensory cortex (Ralph et al., 2017), social categorization also engages regions associated with evaluative processing and social information, such as the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), fusiform gyrus, and medial prefrontal cortex (Brooks & Freeman, 2019;Van Overwalle, 2009). The fusiform gyrus in particular, which is implicated in face perception and visual expertise, has been associated with the top-down modulation of social perception dynamics (Stolier & Freeman, 2017;Van Bavel et al., 2011), including the differentiation between ingroup members and outgroup members with similar perceptual features (Ratner et al., 2013;Van Bavel et al., 2008). Activity in the OFC has likewise been associated with the strength of an individual's ingroup bias in a minimal groups paradigm (Van Bavel & Cunningham, 2010). ...
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Contemporary research on human sociality is heavily influenced by the social identity approach, positioning social categorization as the primary mechanism governing social life. Building on the distinction between agency and identity in the individual self (“I” vs. “Me”), we emphasize the analogous importance of distinguishing collective agency from collective identity (“We” vs. “Us”). While collective identity is anchored in the unique characteristics of group members, collective agency involves the adoption of a shared subjectivity that is directed toward some object of our attention, desire, emotion, belief, or action. These distinct components of the collective self are differentiated in terms of their mental representations, neurocognitive underpinnings, conditions of emergence, mechanisms of social convergence, and functional consequences. Overall, we show that collective agency provides a useful complement to the social categorization approach, with unique implications for multiple domains of human social life, including collective action, responsibility, dignity, violence, dominance, ritual, and morality.
... In line with the novel intergroup context, participants' neural activity in response to photographs of faces differed according to in-and outgroup membership, rather than racial categories. Specifically, they exhibited increased responses in the amygdala, fusiform gyri, orbitofrontal cortex, dorsal striatum (Van Bavel et al., 2008), and fusiform face area (Van Bavel et al., 2011) in response to novel ingroup members, interpreted as signalling ingroup bias. These responses were not moderated by the race of the target. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic led to a global increase in hate crimes and xenophobia. In these uncertain times, real or imaginary threats can easily lead to intergroup conflict. Here, we integrate social neuroscience findings with classic social psychology theories into a framework to better understand how intergroup threat can lead to violence. The role of moral disengagement, dehumanization, and intergroup schadenfreude in this process are discussed, together with their underlying neural mechanisms. We outline how this framework can inform social scientists and policy makers to help reduce the escalation of intergroup conflict and promote intergroup cooperation. The critical role of the media and public figures in these unprecedented times is highlighted as an important factor to achieve these goals.
... A majority of evidence showed that social categorization into in-group and out-group was sufficient to elicit the OGB, but a series of studies (Shriver et al., 2008;Van Bavel et al., 2008Ng et al., 2016Ng et al., , 2020Yan et al., 2017;Harrison et al., 2020;Fuller et al., 2021) have continued to report inconsistent results, especially when there were no salient physiognomic features on faces (same-race faces without other categorical diagnostic features). For example, some studies showed equivalent recognition memory for in-group versus out-group faces (Yan et al., 2017 for Chinese populations; Ng et al., 2016Ng et al., , 2020 for first-generation East Asian Canadians; Harrison et al., 2020 andFuller et al., 2021 for United Kingdom populations). ...
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Previous studies have shown that social categorization can induce an own-group face recognition bias. However, similar and better other-group face recognition emerged recently. In this research, we aimed to examine whether competitive cues and group status accompanied by social categorization can modulate the inter-group face recognition bias. Moreover, we investigated how the group identification of individuals with different statuses affected the inter-group face recognition bias. The results indicated that an own-group face recognition bias emerged for targets with in-group labels compared to out-group labels. Moreover, when the group labels signaled competitive cues, the own-group face recognition bias was reversed. Furthermore, low-status and similar-status individuals exhibited out-group face recognition bias, but high-status individuals did not. In addition, the higher the in-group identification scores of participants from the low-status group, the stronger the out-group face recognition bias. These results suggested that competitive cues would reverse the own-group face recognition bias and the group status would play a modulating role in face recognition bias.
... ERP research examining the N170 component, an index of face encoding, revealed differential processing of ingroup versus outgroup faces, even when groups were defined arbitrarily [92]. Also, the orbitofrontal cortex has been shown to play a broader role in group-based evaluations [93]. ...
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The present study used EEG/ERPs to detect the activation of implicit stereotypical representations associated to other-race (OR) people and the modulation of such activation through the previous presentation of positive vs. neutral social information. Electrophysiological signals were recorded in 40 Italian Caucasian participants, unaware of the overall study’s purpose. They were presented with 285 sentences that could either violate, non-violate (e.g., “the Roma girl was involved in a robbery) or be neutral with regard to stereotypical concepts concerning other-race people (e.g. Asians, Africans, Arabic). ERPs were time-locked to the terminal words. Prior to the sentence reading task, participants were exposed to a 10 minutes colourful video documentary. While the experimental group was presented a video containing images picturing other-race characters involved in “prestigious” activities that violated stereotypical negative assumptions (e.g. a black neurosurgeon leading a surgery team), the control group viewed a neutral documentary about flora and fauna. EEG signals were then recorded during the sentence reading task to explore whether the previous exposure to the experimental video could modulate the detection of incongruence in the sentences violating stereotypes, as marked by the N400 response. A fictitious task was adopted, consisted in detecting rare animal names. Indeed, only the control group showed a greater N400 response (350–550 ms) to words incongruent with ethnic stereotypes compared to congruent and neutral ones, thus suggesting the presence of a racial bias. No N400 response was found for the experimental group, suggesting a lack of negative expectation for OR individuals. The swLORETA inverse solution, performed on the prejudice-related N400 showed that the Inferior Temporal and the Superior and Middle Frontal Gyri were the strongest N400 intra-cortical sources. Regardless of the experimental manipulation, Congruent terminal words evoked a greater P300 response (500–600 ms) compared to incongruent and neutral ones and a late frontal positivity (650–800 ms) was found to be larger to sentences involving OR than own-race characters (either congruent or incongruent with the prejudice) thus possibly indicating bias-free perceptual in-group/out-group categorization processes. The data showed how it is possible to modulate a pre-existing racial prejudice (as reflected by N400 effect) through exposure to positive media-driven information about OR people. Further follow-up studies should determine the duration in time, and across contexts, of this modulatory effect.
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The current paper seeks to integrate social and cognitive psychological literature to provide a multifaceted understanding of attention to race. Social psychological studies show that participants demonstrate attentional bias to racial out‐group versus in‐group faces. Most of this research utilizes White participants and examines the attentional bias to Black faces, concluding that threat stereotypes or negative racial attitudes underlie attentional bias. However, visual processing research demonstrates that various stimulus‐ and perceiver‐driven processes impact attention, suggesting that mechanisms other than racial stereotypes may underlie race‐based attention. We propose a framework of attention that accounts not only for direct influences of the stimulus and perceiver but also perceiver‐stimulus interactions that emerge iteratively over time. We apply this framework to existing research on attention to race, elucidating various processes that can explain the attention to racial out‐groups. We propose that our framework can account for attention to race more generally, beyond the oft‐used Black versus White paradigm. We argue that mechanisms underlying attentional bias to race encompass complex factors beyond stereotypes and that our framework can account for stimulus, perceiver, and iterative processes that impact attention to race.
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There is evidence of testosterone having deteriorating effects on cognitive and affective empathic behaviour in men and women under varying conditions. However, whether testosterone influences empathy for pain has not yet been investigated. Therefore, we tested neural responses to witnessing others in pain in a within-subject placebo-controlled testosterone administration study in healthy young women. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we provide affirming evidence that an empathy-inducing paradigm causes changes in the activity throughout the pain circuitry, including the bilateral insula and anterior cingulate cortex. Administration of testosterone, however, did not influence these activation patterns in the pain matrix. Testosterone has thus downregulating effects on aspects of empathic behaviour, but based on these data does not seem to influence neural responses during empathy for others’ pain. This finding gives more insight into the role of testosterone in human empathy.
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In this study, we investigated the effect of intergroup contact on processing of own- and other-race faces using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Previous studies have shown a neural own-race effect with greater BOLD response to own race compared to other race faces. In our study, white participants completed a social-categorization task and an individuation task while viewing the faces of both black and white strangers after having answered questions about their previous experiences with black people. We found that positive contact modulated BOLD activity in the right fusiform gyrus (rFG) and left inferior occipital gyrus (lIOC), regions associated with face processing. Within these regions, higher positive contact was associated with higher activity when processing black, compared to white faces during the social categorisation task. We also found that in both regions a greater amount of individuating experience with black people was associated with greater activation for black vs. white faces in the individuation task. Quantity of contact, implicit racial bias and negatively valenced contact showed no effects. Our findings suggest that positive contact and individuating experience directly modulate processing of out-group faces in the visual cortex, and illustrate that contact quality rather than mere familiarity is an important factor in reducing the own race face effect.
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The extent to which individuals are inclined to judge unfamiliar others as trustworthy can have important implications for social functioning. Using multivariate pattern analysis, a neural phenotype of trust bias was identified in 48 human adolescents (ages 14–18 years, 26 female). Adolescents who exhibited more similar brain response to faces at the extremes of a trustworthy gradient were more likely to rate neutral faces as trustworthy. This relation between neural pattern representation and trust bias was evinced in the amygdala. Amygdala–insula connectivity dissimilarity to faces at the extremes of the trustworthy gradient was associated with greater trust bias to neutral faces, serving as a distinct circuit-level contributor to decision-making over and above of amygdala pattern similarity. These findings aid understanding of neural mechanisms contributing to individual differences in social evaluations of ambiguity.
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Belonging to a social group is one of the most important factors contributing to well-being. The Belonging Regulation model proposes that humans possess a social monitoring system (SMS) that evaluates social inclusion and monitors belonging needs. Here, we used a prospective longitudinal design to examine links between peer victimization experienced across 7 years and social monitoring at the behavioral and neural level in adolescent girls ( n = 38, Mage = 15.43 years, SD = .33). Participants completed a social evaluation task during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan. More severe peer victimization was associated with increased activation to in-group versus out-group peers in the amygdala, ventral striatum, fusiform gyrus, and temporoparietal junction. Moreover, participants who displayed increased activation in these regions reported lower social self esteem and higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms. These results suggest that exposure to peer victimization across the school years is associated with heightened social monitoring at the neural level during adolescence, which has potential adverse implications for girls’ adjustment and well-being.
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The extent to which individuals are inclined to judge unfamiliar others as trustworthy can have important implications for social functioning. Using multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), a neural phenotype of trust bias was identified in 48 human adolescents (ages 14-18 years, 26 female). Adolescents who exhibited more similar brain response to faces at the extremes of a trustworthy gradient were more likely to rate neutral faces as trustworthy. This relation between neural pattern representation and trust bias was evinced in the amygdala. Amygdala-insula connectivity dissimilarity to faces at the extremes of the trustworthy gradient was associated with greater trust bias to neutral faces, serving as a distinct circuit-level contributor to decision making over and above of amygdala pattern similarity. These findings aid understanding of neural mechanisms contributing to individual differences in social evaluations of ambiguity.
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In-ethnicity bias, as one of the in-group biases, is widespread in different cultures, interfering with cross-ethnicity communication. Recent studies have revealed that an in-ethnicity bias can be reduced by an in-team bias caused by the membership in a mixed-ethnicity team. However, the neural correlates of different in-group biases are still not clear, especially regarding possible cultural differences. Forty-four participants (twenty Chinese and twenty-four Germans) were recruited and completed a social categorization fMRI-task, categorizing faces according to their ethnicity and a learned team membership. Our behavioral results revealed both in-ethnicity and in-team bias in German participants, but not in Chinese participants. Our imaging results however, showed both biases across all participants, as reflected in increased dorsal medial frontal cortex (MFC) activation for in-ethnicity, as well as in-team categorizations, while activation in ventral MFC was higher for in-ethnicity faces in Chinese participants than in the German participants. Our results highlight the importance of the dorsal MFC for in-group categorization across cultures and suggest that cultures might modulate in-group biases.
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Previous research has shown that people have more empathic responses to in-group members and more schadenfreude to out-group members. As a dimension of cognitive empathy, perspective-taking has been considered to be related to the enhancement of empathy. We tried to combine these effects through manipulation of a competitive task with opponents and an in-group partner and investigated the potential effect of in-group bias or the perspective-taking effect on outcome evaluation. We hypothesized that the neural activities would provide evidence of in-group bias. We tested it with a simple gambling observation task and recorded subjects’ electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. Our results showed that the opponent’s loss evoked larger feedback-related negativity (FRN) and smaller P300 activity than the partner’s loss condition, and there was a win vs. loss differential effect in P300 for the opponent only. The principal component analysis (PCA) replicated the loss vs. win P300 effect to opponent’s performance. Moreover, the correlation between the inclusion of the other in the self (IOS) scores and FRN suggests perspective-taking may induce greater monitoring to opponent’s performance, which increases the win vs. loss differentiation brain response to the out-group agent. Our results thus provide evidence for the enhanced attention toward out-group individuals after competition manipulation, as well as the motivation significance account of FRN.
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Individuals rapidly extract information about others’ social identity, including whether or not they belong to their in-group. Group membership status has been shown to affect how attentively people encode information conveyed by those others. These findings are highly relevant for the field of psycholinguistics where there exists an open debate on how words are represented in the mental lexicon and how abstract or context-specific these representations are. Here, we used a novel word learning paradigm to test our proposal that the group membership status of speakers also affects how speaker-specific representations of novel words are. Participants learned new words from speakers who either attended their own university (in-group speakers) or did not (out-group speakers) and performed a task to measure their individual in-group bias. Then, their source memory of the new words was tested in a recognition test to probe the speaker-specific content of the novel lexical representations and assess how it related to individual in-group biases. We found that speaker group membership and participants’ in-group bias affected participants’ decision biases. The stronger the in-group bias, the more cautious participants were in their decisions. This was particularly applied to in-group related decisions. These findings indicate that social biases can influence recognition threshold. Taking a broader scope, defining how information is represented is a topic of great overlap between the fields of memory and psycholinguistics. Nevertheless, researchers from these fields tend to stay within the theoretical and methodological borders of their own field, missing the chance to deepen their understanding of phenomena that are of common interest. Here, we show how methodologies developed in the memory field can be implemented in language research to shed light on an important theoretical issue that relates to the composition of lexical representations.
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The Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is developing a sophisticated naturalistic account of religion, grounded in empirical research. However, there are limitations to establishing an empirical basis for theories about religion’s role in human evolution. Computer modeling and simulation offers a way to address this experimental constraint. A case study in this approach was conducted on a key theory within CSR that recently has come under serious challenge: the Supernatural Punishment Hypothesis, which posits religion facilitated the shift from small, homogeneous social units to large, complex societies. It has been proposed that incorporating empathy as a proximate mechanism for cooperation into the theory may address these challenges. To test this, we developed a computer simulation that runs iterated cooperation games. To assess the impact of empathy on cooperation, we developed an agent-based model with a baseline for empathetic concern, derived from neuroscientific literature on empathy and cooperation, that could be modulated by signals of religious identity. The results of this simulation may provide important data for an account of religion’s role in human evolution. Results and their implications, for both the theory and the modeling and simulation approach, are discussed.
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To reduce the escalation of intergroup conflict, it is important that we understand the processes related to the detection of group-based threat and reconciliation. In the present study, we investigated the neural mechanisms of such processes using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Functional neuroimaging techniques may shed light on quick, automatic responses to stimuli that happen outside of conscious awareness and are thus increasingly difficult to quantify relying only on participants’ self-reported experiences. They may further provide invaluable insight into physiological processes occurring in situations of sensitive nature, whereby participants–deliberately or not–may withhold their honest responses due to social desirability. Non-Muslim Western Caucasian participants watched short video clips of stereotypical Middle-Eastern Muslim males threatening their ingroup, offering reconciliation to the ingroup, or making a neutral statement. Threatening statements led to increased activation in the amygdala, insula, supramarginal gyrus, and temporal lobe. Reconciliation efforts led to increased activation in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, and caudate. The results suggest that threat detection is a relatively automatic process while evaluating and responding to reconciliation offers requires more cognitive efforts. The implications of these findings and future research directions are discussed.
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Peers become increasingly important during adolescence, with emerging gender differences in peer relationships associated with distinct behavioral and emotional outcomes. Males tend to socialize in larger peer groups with competitive interactions, whereas females engage in longer bouts of dyadic interaction with more intimacy. To examine gender differences in neural response to ecologically valid displays of positive affect and future social interactions, 52 adolescents (14-18 years old; female = 30) completed a social reward fMRI task with videos of a same-gender best friend (BF) or unfamiliar peer (UP) expressing positive (versus neutral) affect. Participants completed ecological momentary assessment of social experiences for two 5-day intervals. Compared with females, males more often reported that their happiest experience in the past hour occurred with class/teammates. Females and males displayed greater fusiform gyrus (FG) activation during BF and UP conditions, respectively (pvoxel<0.0001, pcluster<0.05, family-wise error). Compared with males, females exhibited greater nucleus accumbens (NAcc)-precuneus functional connectivity to BF Positive > UP Positive. An exploratory analysis indicated that the association of male gender with a greater proportion of positive experiences with class/teammates was statistically mediated by greater NAcc-precuneus functional connectivity. Gender differences in positive social experiences may be associated with reward and social cognition networks.
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The amygdala is a core structure in the anterior medial temporal lobe, with an important role in several brain functions involving memory, emotion, perception, social cognition, and even awareness. As a key brain structure for saliency detection, it triggers and controls widespread modulatory signals onto multiple areas of the brain, with a great impact on numerous aspects of adaptive behavior. Here we discuss the neural mechanisms underlying these functions, as established by animal and human research, including insights provided in both healthy and pathological conditions.
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People often fail to individuate members of social outgroups, a phenomenon known as the outgroup homogeneity effect. Here, we used fMRI repetition suppression to investigate the neural representation underlying this effect. In a pre-registered study, White human perceivers (N = 29) responded to pairs of faces depicting White or Black targets. In each pair, the second face depicted either the same target as the first face, a different target from the same race, or a scrambled face outline. We localized face-selective neural regions via an independent task, and demonstrated that neural activity in the fusiform face area distinguished different faces only when targets belonged to the perceivers' racial ingroup (White). By contrast, face-selective cortex did not discriminate between other-race individuals. Moreover, across two studies (total N = 67) perceivers were slower to discriminate between different outgroup members and remembered them to a lesser extent. Together, these results suggest that the outgroup homogeneity effect arises when early-to-mid-level visual processing results in an erroneous overlap of representations of outgroup members.Significance statement Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that perceivers struggle to distinguish between different members of a racial outgroup. Here, we show in a pre-registered study that this failure arises when areas of the human brain that specifically process facial identity-most notably, the so-called "fusiform face area"-fail to detect differences between identities of members of a racial outgroup. When White perceivers viewed photos of two different Black men, the face area of their brains responded as if the two photos portrayed the same person. This effect was constrained to outgroup faces; the face area successfully distinguished faces of two different White individuals. Our results highlight the failure of basic representational mechanisms in processing individuals from other social groups.
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In this research, we examine how sudden shifts in social identity can swiftly shape implicit evaluations. According to dual system models of attitudes, implicit attitude change is often slow and insensitive to explicit cues or goals. However, the social identity approach suggests that the intergroup context can shape nearly every aspect of social cognition from explicit preferences to implicit evaluations. In three experiments, we test whether explicit cues about social identity and the intergroup context can swiftly shape implicit evaluations. We find that people quickly develop an implicit preference favoring their in-group relative to the out-group—even when the group assignments are arbitrary. Importantly, this pattern of implicit intergroup bias quickly shifts following subtle changes in the intergroup context. When we frame the two groups as cooperative (vs. competitive), implicit intergroup bias is eliminated. Finally, being switched from one minimal group to the other reverses implicit intergroup bias, leading people to favor their new in-group (and former out-group). Individual differences in the degree to which people readily switch their implicit intergroup preference are correlated with their need to belong. In sum, these studies provide evidence that social identity cues and goals rapidly tune implicit evaluation. This research not only speaks to the influence of social identity on implicit cognition, but also has implications for models of attitude development and change.
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The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program unites college students and incarcerated individuals for semester-long courses. The present study assessed the association between Inside-Out participation and perceptions of incarcerated populations, as well as criminal justice activism. Specifically, we compared Inside-Out participants to students who submitted a request to enroll in Inside-Out but ultimately did not participate, and students who neither participated nor requested enrollment, on: empathy, social closeness and similarity to incarcerated individuals, and criminal justice activism importance and confidence. Inside-Out students expressed greater affective, but not cognitive, empathy, and felt closer and more similar to the incarcerated, compared to their non-participating peers. Inside-Out students and those who requested enrollment did not differ in activism. Both groups scored higher than students who neither participated nor requested enrollment. Present findings demonstrate that empathy and social connectedness towards incarcerated populations are uniquely associated with Inside-Out Program participation, not simply an interest in its curriculum.
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Die größten Katastrophen der Menschheit wurden verursacht durch kollektive Gewalt in Form von Kriegen und Völkermord. Dieses Kapitel bietet neben einer Kurzdarstellung der historischen Dimensionen Erklärungsmöglichkeiten für das Zustandekommen solcher Ereignisse aus phylogenetischer, sozialwissenschaftlicher, psychologischer und neurowissenschaftlicher Sicht an.
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This paper reports robust experimental evidence that humanization—in the form of individuating information about another’s personal preferences—leads to decreased prosocial behavior toward in-group members. Previous research shows that this information increases prosocial behavior toward dehumanized out-group members. The consequences for in-group members, however, are less well understood. Using methods from social psychology and behavioral economics, four experiments show that individuating information decreases pro-social behavior toward in-group members in a variety of settings (charitable giving, altruistic punishment, and trust games). Moreover, this effect results from decreased reliance on group membership labels, and not from other potential explanations like the induction of new group identities. Understanding these effects sheds light on the motives behind intergroup conflict, which may not result from a difference in social perception (i.e., humanized in-groups and dehumanized out-groups), but rather from biases associated with group membership (i.e. in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination) that are eliminated by individuating information. Together, these results indicate that humanization carries a hidden cost for in-group members by disrupting group identities that would otherwise make them targets of altruistic actions.
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The project of identifying the cognitive mechanisms or information-processing functions that cause people to categorize others by their race is one of the longest-standing and socially-impactful scientific issues in all of the behavioral sciences. This paper addresses a critical issue with one of the few hypotheses in this area that has thus far been successful— the alliance hypothesis of race —which had predicted a set of experimental circumstances that appeared to selectively target and modify people’s implicit categorization of others by their race. Here, we will show why the evidence put forward in favor of this hypothesis was not in fact evidence in support of the hypothesis, contrary to common understanding. We will then provide the necessary and crucial tests of the hypothesis in the context of conflictual alliances, determining if the predictions of the alliance hypothesis of racial categorization in fact hold up to experimental scrutiny. When adequately tested, we find that indeed categorization by race is selectively reduced when crossed with membership in antagonistic alliances—the very pattern predicted by the alliance hypothesis. This finding provides direct experimental evidence that the human mind treats race as proxy for alliance membership, implying that racial categorization does not reflect attention to physical features per se, but rather to social relationships.
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Previous research has shown that social-conceptual associations, such as stereotypes, can influence the visual representation of faces and neural-pattern responses in ventral temporal cortex (VTC) regions, such as the fusiform gyrus (FG). Current models suggest that this social-conceptual impact requires medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) feedback signals during perception. Backward masking can disrupt such signals, as it is a technique known to reduce functional connectivity between VTC regions and regions outside VTC. During fMRI, subjects passively viewed masked and unmasked faces, and following the scan perceptual biases and stereotypical associations were assessed. Multi-voxel representations of faces across the VTC, and in the FG and mOFC, reflected stereotypically biased perceptions when faces were unmasked, but this effect was abolished when faces were masked. However, the VTC still retained the ability to process masked faces and was sensitive to their categorical distinctions. Functional connectivity analyses confirmed that masking disrupted mOFC-FG connectivity, which predicted a reduced impact of stereotypical associations in the FG. Taken together, our findings suggest that the biasing of an individual’s stereotypical associations on face representations does not arise from intrinsic processing within the VTC and FG alone, but instead depends in part on top-down feedback from the mOFC during perception.
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Most adults are better at recognizing recently encountered faces of their own race, relative to faces of other races. In adults, this race effect in face recognition is associated with differential neural representations of own- and other-race faces in the fusiform face area (FFA), a high-level visual region involved in face recognition. Previous research has linked these differential face representations in adults to viewers' implicit racial associations. However, despite the fact that the FFA undergoes a gradual development which continues well into adulthood, little is known about the developmental time-course of the race effect in FFA responses. Also unclear is how this race effect might relate to the development of face recognition or implicit associations with own- or other-races during childhood and adolescence. To examine the developmental trajectory of these race effects, in a cross sectional study of European American (EA) children (ages 7 - 11), adolescents (ages 12 - 16), and adults (ages 18 - 35), we evaluated responses to adult African American (AA) and EA face stimuli, using functional magnetic resonance imaging and separate behavioral measures outside the scanner. We found that FFA responses to AA and EA faces differentiated during development from childhood into adulthood; meanwhile, the magnitudes of race effects increased in behavioral measures of face-recognition and implicit racial associations. These three race effects were positively correlated, even after controlling for age. These findings suggest that social and perceptual experiences shape a protracted development of the race effect in face processing that continues well into adulthood.
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Ingroup favoritism and discrimination against outgroups are pervasive in social interactions. To uncover the cognitive processes underlying generosity towards in- and outgroup members, we employ eye-tracking in two pre registered studies. We replicate the well-established ingroup favoritism effect and uncover that ingroup compared to outgroup decision settings are characterized by systematic differences in information search effort (i.e., increased response times and number of fixations, more inspected information) and attention distribution. Surprisingly, these results showed a stronger dependency on the in- vs. out-group setting for more individualistic compared to prosocial participants: Whereas individualistic decision makers invested relatively less effort into information search when decisions involved out-group members, prosocial decision makers’ effort differed less between in- and outgroup decisions. Therein, choice and processing findings showed differences, indicating that inferences about the decision process from choices alone can be misleading. Implications for intergroup research and the regulation of intergroup conflict are discussed.
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Why have citizens become increasingly polarized? The answer is that there is increasing identification with political parties —a process known as partisanship (Mason, 2018). This chapter will focus on the role that social identity plays in contemporary politics (Greene, 2002). These party identities influence political preferences, such that partisans are more likely to agree with policies that were endorsed by their political party, regardless of the policy content, and, in some cases, their own ideological beliefs (Cohen, 2003; Samuels & Zucco Jr, 2014). There are many social and structural factors that are related to partisanship, including polarization (Lupu, 2015), intergroup threat (e.g., Craig & Richeson, 2014), and media exposure (Tucker et al., 2018; Barberá, 2015). Our chapter will focus on the psychology and neuroscience of partisanship within these broader socio-political contexts. This will help reveal the roots of partisanship across political contexts.
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According to psychoanalysis, anxiety signals a threat whenever a forbidden feeling emerges. Anxiety triggers defenses and maladaptive behaviors, thus leading to clinical problems. For these reasons, anxiety regulation is a core aspect of psychodynamic-oriented treatments to help their clients. In the present theoretical paper, we review and discuss anxiety generation and dysregulation, first from a neural point of view, presenting findings from neuroimaging and psychophysiologic studies. The aim is to trace parallels with psychodynamic theories of anxiety. Then we discuss the psychological mechanisms and neural bases of emotion regulation in the laboratory, and possible neurobiological mechanisms of anxiety regulation in psychotherapy. We describe two different approaches to emotion/anxiety regulation, one based on the standard cognitive model of emotion regulation, the other based on psychodynamic principles and affective neuroscience. We then illustrate in detail a dynamic-experiential approach to regulation. This model claims that emotions arise before cognition, and are not inherently dysregulated. Dysregulation emerges from co-occurrences of emotions and associated anxiety. Technical consequences of this model are discussed and include strategies to regulate anxiety.
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The social neuroscience approach to prejudice investigates the psychology of intergroup bias by integrating models and methods of neuroscience with the social psychology of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Here, we review major contemporary lines of inquiry, including current accounts of group-based categorization; formation and updating of prejudice and stereotypes; effects of prejudice on perception, emotion, and decision making; and the self-regulation of prejudice. In each section, we discuss key social neuroscience findings, consider interpretational challenges and connections with the behavioral literature, and highlight how they advance psychological theories of prejudice. We conclude by discussing the next-generation questions that will continue to guide the social neuroscience approach toward addressing major societal issues of prejudice and discrimination. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 72 is January 4, 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
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This study analyzes how people's attitudes to the European refugee crisis (ERC) correspond to selected psychological state and trait measures and impact the neural processing of media images of refugees. From a large pool of respondents, who filled in an online xenophobia questionnaire, we selected two groups (total N = 38) with the same socio-demographic background, but with opposite attitudes toward refugees. We found that a negative attitude toward refugees (high xenophobia - HX) was associated with a significantly higher conscientiousness score and with a higher trait aggression and hostility, but there was no group effect connected with empathy, fear, and anxiety measures. At the neural level we found that brain activity during the presentation of ERC stimuli is affected by xenophobic attitudes—with more xenophobic subjects exhibiting a higher BOLD response in the left fusiform gyrus. However, while the fMRI results demonstrate increased attention and vigilance toward ERC-related stimuli in the HX group, they do not show differentiated patterns of brain activity associated with perception of dehumanized outgroup.
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An emerging theoretical framework suggests that neural functions associated with stereotyping and prejudice are associated with frontal lobe networks. Using a novel neuroimaging technique, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), during a face-to-face live communication paradigm, we explore an extension of this model to include live dynamic interactions. Neural activations were compared for dyads of similar and dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds. The socioeconomic status of each participant was based on education and income levels. Both groups of dyads engaged in prosocial dialectic discourse during acquisition of hemodynamic signals. Post-scan questionnaires confirmed increased anxiety and effort for high-disparity dyads. Consistent with the frontal lobe hypothesis, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), frontopolar area, and pars triangularis were more active during speech dialogue in high than in low-disparity groups. Further, frontal lobe signals were more synchronous across-brains for high- than low-disparity dyads. Convergence of these behavioral, neuroimaging, and neural coupling findings associate left frontal lobe processes with natural prosocial dialogue under "out-group" conditions, and advance both theoretical and technical approaches for further investigation.
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The cultivation of compassion through meditation training is of increasing interest to scientists, health-care providers, educators, and policymakers as an approach to help address challenging personal and social issues. Yet people encounter critical inner psychological barriers to compassion that limit the effectiveness of compassion training—including the lack of a secure base, aversion to suffering, feeling alone in suffering, and reductive impressions of others. These barriers emerge, in part, from a lack of relational support and are exacerbated by modernist conceptions that present meditation as an autonomous, self-help practice. This article proposes a solution centered on relationality that is derived from the integration of diverse areas of psychology with contemplative traditions. Theories and findings from social, developmental, and health psychology can inform meditation programs and help recover important relational elements of compassion training from traditional cultures that address common barriers to compassion and thus promote more sustainable and inclusive care. In so doing, this article illustrates the value of psychological theories for translating important contextual elements from contemplative traditions into diverse modern settings.
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Similar neural circuits are activated during action and the observation of action and such sensorimotor resonance is said to support action understanding and empathy. Previous research, however, shows that group biases can restrict sensorimotor resonance to the social ingroup. Here we test whether an empathic mindset can alleviate such group biases in sensorimotor resonance. Participants adopted either an objective mindset or a perspective taking mindset while writing about a day in the life of a racial outgroup member. Participants in an objective mindset resonated with ingroup members, indicated by significant suppression of the 8-13 Hz EEG mu-rhythm recorded over sensorimotor areas during action observation compared to baseline, but did not show significant mu-suppression in response to outgroup members. In contrast, participants in a perspective taking mindset resonated with both ingroup and outgroup members and significantly more so with outgroup members. Moreover, mindset uniquely affected resonance in response to outgroup members but not in response to ingroup members, with participants who previously took the perspective of an outgroup member later responding with more resonance to the actions of other outgroup members. Together these findings suggest that taking the perspective of a racial outgroup member can reduce group biases in sensorimotor resonance, potentially fostering an intuitive understanding across groups.
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Older adults (OA) evaluate faces to be more trustworthy than do younger adults (YA), yet the processes supporting these more positive evaluations are unclear. This study identified neural mechanisms spontaneously engaged during face perception that differentially relate to OA’ and YA’ later trustworthiness evaluations. We examined two mechanisms: salience (reflected by amygdala activation) and reward (reflected by caudate activation) – both of which are implicated in evaluating trustworthiness. We emphasized the salience and reward value of specific faces by having OA and YA evaluate ingroup male White and outgroup Black and Asian faces. Participants perceived faces during fMRI and made trustworthiness evaluations after the scan. OA rated White and Black faces as more trustworthy than YA. OA had a stronger positive relationship between caudate activity and trustworthiness than YA when perceiving ingroup, but not outgroup, faces. Ingroup cues might intensify how trustworthiness is rewarding to OA, potentially reinforcing their overall positivity.
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Studies of the recognition of faces of an ethnic group different from one's own reveal a robust recognition deficit for faces of the respective out-group (cross-race effect or own-race bias) and a tendency to respond less cautiously with respect to out-group faces. Cross-national comparisons reveal that the cross-race effect appears to be larger among low-contact groups. Although exemplar-based models postulating a multidimensional face space are currently in vogue, some of the more traditional accounts (e.g., the contact hypothesis) should not be dismissed prematurely. An extended exemplar-based model that relates the out-group recognition deficit to the out-group homogeneity effect in social perception and judgment appears promising. An in-group/out-group model (IOM) of face processing is proposed that includes aspects of previous theories and derives new predictions (e.g., a cross-sex or cross-age effect). The IOM attempts to account for the out-group recognition deficit and the more lax response criterion with respect to out-group faces. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This article explored the finding that cross-race (CR) faces are more quickly classified by race than same race (SR) faces. T. Valentine and M. Endo (1992) modeled this effect by assuming that face categories can be explained on the basis of node activations in a multidimensional exemplar space. Therefore, variations in exemplar density between and within face categories explain both facilitated classification of CR faces and the relationship between typicality and classification RT within face categories. The present findings from classification and visual search tasks suggest that speeded classification of CR faces is instead caused by a quickly coded race feature that marks CR but not SR faces. Also, systematic manipulations of facial typicality cause no variation in classifiability aside from slowed classification of very distinctive faces. These results suggest that the exemplar model cannot explain important aspects of face classification. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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People perceive and evaluate others according to social categories. Yet social perception is complicated by the fact that people have multiple social identities, and self-categorization with these identities shifts from one situation to another. Two experiments examined whether self-categorization with a novel mixed-race group would override automatic racial bias. Participants assigned to a mixed-race group had more positive automatic evaluations of Black ingroup than Black outgroup members. Comparing these evaluations to Black and White faces unaffiliated with either group indicated this preference was driven by ingroup bias rather than outgroup derogation. Moreover, both outgroup and unaffiliated faces elicited automatic racial bias (White > Black), suggesting that automatic evaluations are sensitive to both the current intergroup context (positive evaluations of novel ingroup members) and race (racial bias toward outgroup and unaffiliated faces). These experiments provide evidence that self-categorization can override automatic racial bias and that automatic evaluations shift between and within social contexts.
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Explored recognition for faces of persons of own and other race in 20 black and 20 white undergraduates at both a predominantly black and a predominantly white university. 10 stimulus photographs each of black and white males were selected from a pool of stimulus photographs for recognition. The d' measure defined by signal detection theory was used as an index of discriminability/acuity. White faces were found more discriminable than black faces, and Ss were found to habe higher acuity for faces of own race. Questionnaire data suggest differential experience with persons of other race only for black Ss at the white university, and fail to show a relation of reported experience to recognition acuity. The hypothesis of greater heterogeneity of white faces was not tested.
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Part of the ventral temporal lobe is thought to be critical for face perception, but what determines this specialization remains unknown. We present evidence that expertise recruits the fusiform gyrus 'face area'. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure changes associated with increasing expertise in brain areas selected for their face preference. Acquisition of expertise with novel objects (greebles) led to increased activation in the right hemisphere face areas for matching of upright greebles as compared to matching inverted greebles. The same areas were also more activated in experts than in novices during passive viewing of greebles. Expertise seems to be one factor that leads to specialization in the face area.
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We used fMRI to explore the neural substrates involved in the unconscious evaluation of Black and White social groups. Specifically, we focused on the amygdala, a subcortical structure known to play a role in emotional learning and evaluation. In Experiment 1, White American subjects observed faces of unfamiliar Black and White males. The strength of amygdala activation to Black-versus-White faces was correlated with two indirect (unconscious) measures of race evaluation (Implicit Association Test [IAT] and potentiated startle), but not with the direct (conscious) expression of race attitudes. In Experiment 2, these patterns were not obtained when the stimulus faces belonged to familiar and positively regarded Black and White individuals. Together, these results suggest that amygdala and behavioral responses to Black-versus-White faces in White subjects reflect cultural evaluations of social groups modified by individual experience.
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine the nature of amygdala sensitivity to race. Both African-American and Caucasian-American individuals showed greater amygdala activity to African-American targets than to Caucasian-American targets, suggesting that race-related amygdala activity may result from cultural learning rather than from the novelty of other races. Additionally, verbal encoding of African-American targets produced significantly less amygdala activity than perceptual encoding of African-American targets.
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Drawing on theories of social comparison, realistic group conflict, and social identity, we present an integrative model designed to describe the psychological utility of social groups. We review diverse motivations that group membership may satisfy (e.g., the need for acceptance or ideological consensus) and attempt to link these particular needs to a global concern for self-worth. We then examine several factors hypothesized to influence an ingroup's utility in the eyes of its members. Attempting to unite our understanding of (a) why groups are needed and (b) what kinds of groups are useful in meeting those needs, a proposed model of the ingroup as a social resource (MISR) suggests that the dimensions of perceived value, entitativity, and identification interact to determine the overall psychological utility of an ingroup. We discuss empirical and theoretical support for this model, as well as its implications for intra- and intergroup attitudes.
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People's motivational states--their wishes and preferences--influence their processing of visual stimuli. In 5 studies, participants shown an ambiguous figure (e.g., one that could be seen either as the letter B or the number 13) tended to report seeing the interpretation that assigned them to outcomes they favored. This finding was affirmed by unobtrusive and implicit measures of perception (e.g., eye tracking, lexical decision tasks) and by experimental procedures demonstrating that participants were aware only of the single (usually favored) interpretation they saw at the time they viewed the stimulus. These studies suggest that the impact of motivation on information processing extends down into preconscious processing of stimuli in the visual environment and thus guides what the visual system presents to conscious awareness.
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Although the cross-race effect (CRE) is a well-established phenomenon, both perceptual-expertise and social-categorization models have been proposed to explain the effect. The two studies reported here investigated the extent to which categorizing other people as in-group versus out-group members is sufficient to elicit a pattern of face recognition analogous to that of the CRE, even when perceptual expertise with the stimuli is held constant. In Study 1, targets were categorized as members of real-life in-groups and out-groups (based on university affiliation), whereas in Study 2, targets were categorized into experimentally created minimal groups. In both studies, recognition performance was better for targets categorized as in-group members, despite the fact that perceptual expertise was equivalent for in-group and out-group faces. These results suggest that social-cognitive mechanisms of in-group and out-group categorization are sufficient to elicit performance differences for in-group and out-group face recognition.
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Although early research implicated the amygdala in automatic processing of negative information, more recent research suggests that it plays a more general role in processing the motivational relevance of various stimuli, suggesting that the relation between valence and amygdala activation may depend on contextual goals. This study provides experimental evidence that the relation between valence and amygdala activity is dynamically modulated by evaluative goals. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, participants evaluated the positive, negative, or overall (positive plus negative) aspects of famous people. When participants were providing overall evaluations, both positive and negative names were associated with amygdala activation. When they were evaluating positivity, positive names were associated with amygdala activity, and when they were evaluating negativity, negative names were associated with amygdala activity. Evidence for a negativity bias was found; modulation was more pronounced for positive than for negative information. These data suggest that the amygdala flexibly processes motivationally relevant evaluative information in accordance with current processing goals, but processes negative information less flexibly than positive information.
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The human amygdala robustly activates to fear faces. Heightened response to fear faces is thought to reflect the amygdala's adaptive function as an early warning mechanism. Although culture shapes several facets of emotional and social experience, including how fear is perceived and expressed to others, very little is known about how culture influences neural responses to fear stimuli. Here we show that the bilateral amygdala response to fear faces is modulated by culture. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure amygdala response to fear and nonfear faces in two distinct cultures. Native Japanese in Japan and Caucasians in the United States showed greater amygdala activation to fear expressed by members of their own cultural group. This finding provides novel and surprising evidence of cultural tuning in an automatic neural response.
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This book presents a new theory of the social group which seeks to explain how individuals become unified into a group and capable of collective behaviour. The book summarizes classic psychological theories of the group, describes and explains the important effects of group membership on social behaviour, outlines self-categorization theory in full and shows how the general perspective has been applied in research on group formation and cohesion, social influence, the polarization of social attitudes, crowd psychology and social stereotyping. The theory emerges as a fundamental new contribution to social psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Experimental research on intergroup discrimination in favor of one's own group is reviewed in terms of the basis of differentiation between in-group and out-group and in terms of the response measure on which in-group bias is assessed. Results of the research reviewed suggest that (a) factors such as intergroup competition, similarity, and status differentials affect in-group bias indirectly by influencing the salience of distinctions between in-group and out-group, (b) the degree of intergroup differentiation on a particular response dimension is a joint function of the relevance of intergroup distinctions and the favorableness of the in-group's position on that dimension, and (c) the enhancement of in-group bias is more related to increased favoritism toward in-group members than to increased hostility toward out-group members. Implications of these results for positive applications of group identification (e.g., a shift of in-group bias research from inter- to intragroup contexts) are discussed. (67 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Allport (1954) recognized that attachment to one's ingroups does not necessarily require hostility toward outgroups. Yet the prevailing approach to the study of ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, and prejudice presumes that ingroup love and outgroup hate are reciprocally related. Findings from both cross-cultural research and laboratory experiments support the alternative view that ingroup identification is independent of negative attitudes toward outgroups and that much ingroup bias and intergroup discrimination is motivated by preferential treatment of ingroup members rather than direct hostility toward outgroup members. Thus to understand the roots of prejudice and discrimination requires first of all a better understanding of the functions that ingroup formation and identification serve for human beings. This article reviews research and theory on the motivations for maintenance of ingroup boundaries and the implications of ingroup boundary protection for intergroup relations, conflict, and conflict prevention.
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Administered a collective self-esteem scale (CSES) and measures of psychological well-being (personal self-esteem, life satisfaction, depression, and hopelessness) to 91 Black, 96 White, and 35 Asian college students. Correlations between the Public and Private subscales of the CSES were near zero for Blacks, moderate for Whites, and strong for Asians. The membership and private subscales of the general CSES were related to psychological well-being, even when the effects of personal self-esteem on well-being were partialed out. However, when the 3 groups were examined separately, the relation of CSE to well-being with personal self-esteem partialed out was nonsignificant for Whites, small for Blacks, and moderate to strong for Asians. General and race-specific CSE were correlated for all 3 groups, although the correlations were strongest for Asians. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
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Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found an area in the fusiform gyrus in 12 of the 15 subjects tested that was significantly more active when the subjects viewed faces than when they viewed assorted common objects. This face activation was used to define a specific region of interest individually for each subject, within which several new tests of face specificity were run. In each of five subjects tested, the predefined candidate "face area" also responded significantly more strongly to passive viewing of (1) intact than scrambled two-tone faces, (2) full front-view face photos than front-view photos of houses, and (in a different set of five subjects) (3) three-quarter-view face photos (with hair concealed) than photos of human hands; it also responded more strongly during (4) a consecutive matching task performed on three-quarter-view faces versus hands. Our technique of running multiple tests applied to the same region defined functionally within individual subjects provides a solution to two common problems in functional imaging: (1) the requirement to correct for multiple statistical comparisons and (2) the inevitable ambiguity in the interpretation of any study in which only two or three conditions are compared. Our data allow us to reject alternative accounts of the function of the fusiform face area (area "FF") that appeal to visual attention, subordinate-level classification, or general processing of any animate or human forms, demonstrating that this region is selectively involved in the perception of faces.
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the human brain was used to study whether the amygdala is activated in response to emotional stimuli, even in the absence of explicit knowledge that such stimuli were presented. Pictures of human faces bearing fearful or happy expressions were presented to 10 normal, healthy subjects by using a backward masking procedure that resulted in 8 of 10 subjects reporting that they had not seen these facial expressions. The backward masking procedure consisted of 33 msec presentations of fearful or happy facial expressions, their offset coincident with the onset of 167 msec presentations of neutral facial expressions. Although subjects reported seeing only neutral faces, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI signal in the amygdala was significantly higher during viewing of masked fearful faces than during the viewing of masked happy faces. This difference was composed of significant signal increases in the amygdala to masked fearful faces as well as significant signal decreases to masked happy faces, consistent with the notion that the level of amygdala activation is affected differentially by the emotional valence of external stimuli. In addition, these facial expressions activated the sublenticular substantia innominata (SI), where signal increases were observed to both fearful and happy faces--suggesting a spatial dissociation of territories that respond to emotional valence versus salience or arousal value. This study, using fMRI in conjunction with masked stimulus presentations, represents an initial step toward determining the role of the amygdala in nonconscious processing.
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Several lines of evidence demonstrate that faces undergo specialized processing within the primate visual system. It has been claimed that dedicated modules for such biologically significant stimuli operate in a mandatory fashion whenever their triggering input is presented. However, the possible role of covert attention to the activating stimulus has never been examined for such cases. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test whether face-specific activity in the human fusiform face area (FFA) is modulated by covert attention. The FFA was first identified individually in each subject as the ventral occipitotemporal region that responded more strongly to visually presented faces than to other visual objects under passive central viewing. This then served as the region of interest within which attentional modulation was tested independently, using active tasks and a very different stimulus set. Subjects viewed brief displays each comprising two peripheral faces and two peripheral houses (all presented simultaneously). They performed a matching task on either the two faces or the two houses, while maintaining central fixation to equate retinal stimulation across tasks. Signal intensity was reliably stronger during face-matching than house matching in both right- and left-hemisphere predefined FFAs. These results show that face-specific fusiform activity is reduced when stimuli appear outside (vs. inside) the focus of attention. Despite the modular nature of the FFA (i.e., its functional specificity and anatomic localization), face processing in this region nonetheless depends on voluntary attention.
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Most brain imaging studies on face perception have investigated the processing of unknown faces and addressed mainly the question of specific face processing in the human brain. The goal of this study was to highlight the effects of familiarity on the visual processing of faces. Using [15O]water 3D Positron Emission Tomography, regional cerebral blood flow distribution was measured in 11 human subjects performing an identical task (gender categorization) on both unknown and known faces. Subjects also performed two control tasks (a face recognition task and a visual pattern discrimination task). They were scanned after a training phase using videotapes during which they had been familiarized with and learned to recognize a set of faces. Two major results were obtained. On the one hand, we found bilateral activations of the fusiform gyri in the three face conditions, including the so-called fusiform-face area, a region in the right fusiform gyrus specifically devoted to face processing. This common activation suggests that different cognitive tasks performed on known and unknown faces require the involvement of this fusiform region. On the other hand, specific regional cerebral blood flow changes were related to the processing of known and unknown faces. The left amygdala, a structure involved in implicit learning of visual representations, was activated by the categorization task on unknown faces. The same task on known faces induced a relative decrease of activity in early visual areas. These differences between the two categorization tasks reveal that the human brain processes known and unknown faces differently.
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Here we describe response in the human amygdala to the presentation of racial outgroup vs ingroup faces. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures of brain activity were acquired while subjects who identified themselves as White or Black viewed photographs of both White and Black faces. Across all subjects, we observed significantly greater blood oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the amygdala to outgroup vs ingroup faces, but only during later stimulus presentations. A region of interest (ROI)-based analysis of these voxels revealed a significant interaction between amygdala response to outgroup and ingroup faces over time. Specifically, the greater amygdala activation to outgroup faces during later stimulus presentations was the result of amygdala response habituation to repeated presentations of ingroup faces with sustained responses to outgroup faces. The present results suggest that amygdala responses to human face stimuli are affected by the relationship between the perceived race of the stimulus face and that of the subject. Results are discussed as consistent with a role for the amygdala in encoding socially and/or biologically relevant information. We conclude that researchers seeking to study brain responses to face stimuli in human subjects should consider the relationship between the race of subjects and stimuli as a significant potential source of variance. Moreover, these data provide a foundation for future related studies in the neuroscience of social cognition and race.
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The neural correlates of many emotional states have been studied, most recently through the technique of fMRI. However, nothing is known about the neural substrates involved in evoking one of the most overwhelming of all affective states, that of romantic love, about which we report here. The activity in the brains of 17 subjects who were deeply in love was scanned using fMRI, while they viewed pictures of their partners, and compared with the activity produced by viewing pictures of three friends of similar age, sex and duration of friendship as their partners. The activity was restricted to foci in the medial insula and the anterior cingulate cortex and, subcortically, in the caudate nucleus and the putamen, all bilaterally. Deactivations were observed in the posterior cingulate gyrus and in the amygdala and were right-lateralized in the prefrontal, parietal and middle temporal cortices. The combination of these sites differs from those in previous studies of emotion, suggesting that a unique network of areas is responsible for evoking this affective state. This leads us to postulate that the principle of functional specialization in the cortex applies to affective states as well.
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Commensurate with the importance of rapidly and efficiently evaluating motivationally significant stimuli, humans are probably endowed with distinct faculties and maintain specialized neural structures to enhance their detection. Here we consider that a critical function of the human amygdala is to enhance the perception of stimuli that have emotional significance. Under conditions of limited attention for normal perceptual awareness-that is, the attentional blink-we show that healthy observers demonstrate robust benefits for the perception of verbal stimuli of aversive content compared with stimuli of neutral content. In contrast, a patient with bilateral amygdala damage has no enhanced perception for such aversive stimulus events. Examination of patients with either left or right amygdala resections shows that the enhanced perception of aversive words depends specifically on the left amygdala. All patients comprehend normally the affective meaning of the stimulus events, despite the lack of evidence for enhanced perceptual encoding of these events in patients with left amygdala lesions. Our results reveal a neural substrate for affective influences on perception, indicating that similar neural mechanisms may underlie the affective modulation of both recollective and perceptual experience.
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Many studies have shown that people remember faces of their own race better than faces of other races. We investigated the neural substrates of same-race memory superiority using functional MRI (fMRI). European-American (EA) and African-American (AA) males underwent fMRI while they viewed photographs of AA males, EA males and objects under intentional encoding conditions. Recognition memory was superior for same-race versus other-race faces. Individually defined areas in the fusiform region that responded preferentially to faces had greater response to same-race versus other-race faces. Across both groups, memory differences between same-race and other-race faces correlated with activation in left fusiform cortex and right parahippocampal and hippocampal areas. These results suggest that differential activation in fusiform regions contributes to same-race memory superiority.
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Cooperation based on reciprocal altruism has evolved in only a small number of species, yet it constitutes the core behavioral principle of human social life. The iterated Prisoner's Dilemma Game has been used to model this form of cooperation. We used fMRI to scan 36 women as they played an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma Game with another woman to investigate the neurobiological basis of cooperative social behavior. Mutual cooperation was associated with consistent activation in brain areas that have been linked with reward processing: nucleus accumbens, the caudate nucleus, ventromedial frontal/orbitofrontal cortex, and rostral anterior cingulate cortex. We propose that activation of this neural network positively reinforces reciprocal altruism, thereby motivating subjects to resist the temptation to selfishly accept but not reciprocate favors.
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Here we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate stages of processing in face perception in humans. We found a face-selective MEG response occurring only 100 ms after stimulus onset (the 'M100'), 70 ms earlier than previously reported. Further, the amplitude of this M100 response was correlated with successful categorization of stimuli as faces, but not with successful recognition of individual faces, whereas the previously-described face-selective 'M170' response was correlated with both processes. These data suggest that face processing proceeds through two stages: an initial stage of face categorization, and a later stage at which the identity of the individual face is extracted.
Article
Single-neuron recording studies in non-human primates indicate that orbitofrontal cortex neurons represent the reward value of the sight, smell and taste of food, and even changes in the relative reward value, but provide no direct evidence on brain activity that is correlated with subjective reports of the pleasantness of food. In this fMRI investigation we report a significant correlation between the activation of a region of the human orbitofrontal cortex and the decrease in subjective pleasantness when a liquid food is eaten to satiety. Moreover, a cluster of voxels in the orbitofrontal cortex showed a decrease in its activation that was specific to the particular liquid food consumed in a meal, providing a neural correlate of sensory-specific satiety to a liquid whole food in humans. This sensory-specific reduction in activation of the orbitofrontal cortex correlating with subjective pleasantness is consistent with an important role for the orbitofrontal cortex in human emotion and motivation, and associated subjective states.
Article
In a study of the neural components of automatic and controlled social evaluation, White participants viewed Black and White faces during event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. When the faces were presented for 30 ms, activation in the amygdala-a brain region associated with emotion-was greater for Black than for White faces. When the faces were presented for 525 ms, this difference was significantly reduced, and regions of frontal cortex associated with control and regulation showed greater activation for Black than White faces. Furthermore, greater race bias on an indirect behavioral measure was correlated with greater difference in amygdala activation between Black and White faces, and frontal activity predicted a reduction in Black-White differences in amygdala activity from the 30-ms to the 525-ms condition. These results provide evidence for neural distinctions between automatic and more controlled processing of social groups, and suggest that controlled processes may modulate automatic evaluation.
Article
The malleability of stereotyping matters in social psychology and in society. Previous work indicates rapid amygdala and cognitive responses to racial out-groups, leading some researchers to view these responses as inevitable. In this study, the methods of social-cognitive neuroscience were used to investigate how social goals control prejudiced responses. Participants viewed photographs of unfamiliar Black and White faces, under each of three social goals: social categorization (by age), social individuation (vegetable preference), and simple visual inspection (detecting a dot). One study recorded brain activity in the amygdala using functional magnetic resonance imaging, and another measured cognitive activation of stereotypes by lexical priming. Neither response to photos of the racial out-group was inevitable; instead, both responses depended on perceivers' current social-cognitive goal.
Article
Hedonic experience is arguably at the heart of what makes us human. In recent neuroimaging studies of the cortical networks that mediate hedonic experience in the human brain, the orbitofrontal cortex has emerged as the strongest candidate for linking food and other types of reward to hedonic experience. The orbitofrontal cortex is among the least understood regions of the human brain, but has been proposed to be involved in sensory integration, in representing the affective value of reinforcers, and in decision making and expectation. Here, the functional neuroanatomy of the human orbitofrontal cortex is described and a new integrated model of its functions proposed, including a possible role in the mediation of hedonic experience.
Article
Emotional processes not only serve to record the value of sensory events, but also to elicit adaptive responses and modify perception. Recent research using functional brain imaging in human subjects has begun to reveal neural substrates by which sensory processing and attention can be modulated by the affective significance of stimuli. The amygdala plays a crucial role in providing both direct and indirect top-down signals on sensory pathways, which can influence the representation of emotional events, especially when related to threat. These modulatory effects implement specialized mechanisms of 'emotional attention' that might supplement but also compete with other sources of top-down control on perception. This work should help to elucidate the neural processes and temporal dynamics governing the integration of cognitive and affective influences in attention and behaviour.
Article
Traditionally, prejudice has been conceptualized as simple animosity. The stereotype content model (SCM) shows that some prejudice is worse. The SCM previously demonstrated separate stereotype dimensions of warmth (low-high) and competence (low-high), identifying four distinct out-group clusters. The SCM predicts that only extreme out-groups, groups that are both stereotypically hostile and stereotypically incompetent (low warmth, low competence), such as addicts and the homeless, will be dehumanized. Prior studies show that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is necessary for social cognition. Functional magnetic resonance imaging provided data for examining brain activations in 10 participants viewing 48 photographs of social groups and 12 participants viewing objects; each picture dependably represented one SCM quadrant. Analyses revealed mPFC activation to all social groups except extreme (low-low) out-groups, who especially activated insula and amygdala, a pattern consistent with disgust, the emotion predicted by the SCM. No objects, though rated with the same emotions, activated the mPFC. This neural evidence supports the prediction that extreme out-groups may be perceived as less than human, or dehumanized.
Article
this paper (except the resliced images labeled "Axial" in Fig. 2). The brain images at the left show in color the voxels that produced a significantly higher MR signal intensity (based on smoothed data) during the epochs containing faces than during those containing objects (1a) and vice versa (1b) for 1 of the 12 slices scanned. These significance images (see color key at right for this and all figures in this paper) are overlaid on a T1-weighted anatomical image of the same slice. Most of the other 11 slices showed no voxels that reached significance at the p , 10
The cross-category effect: Mere social categorization is sufficient to elicit an own-group bias in face recognition
  • M Bernstein
  • S Young
  • K Hugenberg
Bernstein, M., Young, S., & Hugenberg, K. (2007). The cross-category effect: Mere social categorization is sufficient to elicit an own-group bias in face recognition. Psychological Science, 18, 709–712.
Cunningham PSCI 2214 (BWUS PSCI 2214.PDF 24-Oct-08 16:33 422671 Bytes 9 PAGES n operator=jnm.Christina) indirect measures of race evaluation predicts amygdala activation
  • J Jay
  • Dominic J Van Bavel
  • William A Packer
Jay J. Van Bavel, Dominic J. Packer, and William A. Cunningham PSCI 2214 (BWUS PSCI 2214.PDF 24-Oct-08 16:33 422671 Bytes 9 PAGES n operator=jnm.Christina) indirect measures of race evaluation predicts amygdala activation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12, 729–738.
Cunningham W.A., Johnson M.K., Raye C.L., Gatenby J.C., Gore J.C., Banaji M.R. (). Separable neural components in the processing of Black and White faces. Psychological Science, 15,