Controlling racial prejudice - Social-cognitive goals affect amygdala and stereotype activation

ArticleinPsychological Science 16(1):56-63 · February 2005with1,816 Reads
DOI: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00780.x · Source: PubMed
Abstract
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.

Do you want to read the rest of this article?

  • ... A greater right amygdala neural response to pictures of faces of people with an outgroup ethnicity, compared with those with in-group ethnicity, has been interpreted as representing threat appraisal ( Chekroud et al. 2014). This outgroup effect has been consistently demonstrated in multiple studies of individuals of white ethnicity, but has not been thoroughly investigated in indivi- duals of black ethnicity ( Cunningham et al. 2004;Lieberman et al. 2005;Wheeler & Fiske, 2005;Ronquillo et al. 2007;Chekroud et al. 2014;Fox et al. 2015). In psychosis, meanwhile, amygdala hyper- activity has been linked to paranoid symptoms ( Goghari et al. 2010;Pinkham et al. 2015;Underwood et al. 2016). ...
  • ... Second, although a few previous studies have identified dissociable neural responses associated with observing dynamic gestures displayed by racial ingroup vs. outgroup members (e.g., Gutsell and Inzlicht, 2010;Losin et al., 2012), these studies often lacked a well-defined social context in which these cues were embedded and processed. Importantly, categorization of ingroup vs. outgroup members is often fluid and context-dependent ( Turner et al., 1994), and there is in fact evidence showing that dissociable neural sensitivity to ingroup vs. outgroup members can be modulated by task goals (e.g., superficial categorization vs. individuated processing) ( Wheeler and Fiske, 2005;Freeman et al., 2010). Therefore, clarification of these issues is of particular importance in better understanding the neural correlates of processing racial ingroup vs. outgroup information in a defined social context with increased ecological validity. ...
  • ... An "affective network" of brain regions comprising amygdala, insula, striatum, and anterior frontal cortex, has been found to be underpin the ability to feel what someone else might feel ( Keysers and Gazzola, 2009). This affective network also shows sensitivity to group biases ( Golby et al., 2001;Wheeler and Fiske, 2005;Eres and Molenberghs, 2013;Molenberghs, 2013;Amodio, 2014;Azevedo et al., 2014;Molenberghs et al., 2016). For instance, left OFC was more active when participants saw an out-group member inflict harm to an in-group member compared to an out-group member ( Molenberghs et al., 2016). ...
  • ... Cues such as eye gaze direction, ethnic group membership, culturally based self-construals and socialcognitive goals (e.g. categorization vs individuation) modulate race related brain activation ( Wheeler and Fiske, 2005;Chiao et al., 2008;Richeson et al., 2008;Trawalter et al., 2008;Wang et al., 2015). The study reported here extends this literature by focusing on how perceived social class membership modulates race-related neural responses. ...
  • ... Researchers are now able to track the brain's immediate response to racial stimuli, and these findings have generated new perspectives on our understanding of racism. Studies have shown that simply seeing images of someone from a different race activates areas of the brain that are associated with vigilance, approach/avoidance, and fear (Amodio, 2014;Cunningham et al., 2004;Fiske, Bergsieker, Russell, & Williams, 2009;Phelps et al., 2000;Wheeler & Fiske, 2005). These results may be explained by evolutionary protective behaviors, but they are also likely related to implicit bias—a subconscious by-product of attitudes, thoughts, and feelings inherent in our society (Staats, 2014). ...
  • ... Specifically, perceptually suppressed fearful faces reliably activated the amygdala (Jiang & He, 2006;Pasley et al., 2004;Troiani, Price, & Schultz, 2014;Troiani & Schultz, 2013;Williams et al., 2004; for a recent review, see Johnson, Senju, & Tomalski, 2015). Interestingly, the amygdala has also been found to be involved in intergroup affective biases (e.g., Cunningham et al., 2004;Wheeler & Fiske, 2005;Hart et al., 2000;Phelps et al., 2000;Van Bavel, Packer, & Cunningham, 2008;for recent reviews, see Amodio, 2014;Kubota, Banaji, & Phelps, 2012), and the differential level of amyg- dala activity to black and white faces was associated with one's anti-black racial bias measured in implicit association tests (Cunningham et al., 2004;Phelps et al., 2000). ...
  • ... Recently, there has been substantial interest in using fMRI to explore the brain regions and to help unpack the processing involved in social judgments that might support stereotypic and prejudicial beliefs (e.g., Amodio, 2014;Gilbert, Swencionis, & Amodio, 2012;Contreras, Banaji, & Mitchell, 2011;Quadflieg & Macrae, 2011;Quadflieg et al., 2009Amodio & Lieberman, 2009;Mitchell, Ames, Jenkins, & Banaji, 2009). Such studies have tended to explore either the brain regions involved in the application of learned attitudes ( Contreras et al., 2011;Quadflieg et al., 2009) or the implicit impact that stereotypes have on cognition and brain activation ( Gilbert et al., 2012;Mitchell, Macrae, & Banaji, 2006;Wheeler & Fiske, 2005;Cunningham, Raye, & Johnson, 2004;Phelps et al., 2000). From this research, a number of brain regions have been implicated, which include the anterior temporal lobe, amygdala, insula, striatum, dorsal medial pFC, and lateral pFC (see Amodio, 2014, for a review). ...
  • ... In another study, female leaders were evaluated more positively when described as both great leaders, conveying agency, and great mothers, refuting the stereotype of low communality (Heilman & Okimoto, 2007). Finally, when individuals in an FMRI scanner were told to look for unique information about a racial outgroup member, individuation promoted more thoughtful and less biased cognitive processing of target-related information (Wheeler & Fiske, 2005). ...
  • ... (1) The study is a between-subjects experiment. This led to the exclusion of studies that used correlational or quasi-experimental designs (e.g., Rudman, Ashmore, & Gary, 2001) and within-subjects manipulations (e.g., Wheeler & Fiske, 2005). Studies that experimentally manipulated the stimuli or categories in an implicit measure (e.g., by manipulating whether pictures of animals and plants in an animal/plant pleasant/unpleasant IAT are positively or negatively valenced; Govan & Williams, 2004) were also considered ineligible because the conditions assessed categorically different associations rather than changing a particular set of associations. ...
  • ... A meta–analysis further suggested that the IAT is a better predictor of some forms of discrimination against out-group members than explicit measures (Poehlman et al., 2004 ). Several studies, specifically fMRI studies have suggested that, implicit " prejudice " involves a stronger emotional component than explicit prejudice (Lieberman, 2005; Wheeler and Fiske, 2005). One of the earliest neuroscientific investigations of racial attitudes was conducted by Phelps et al. (2000). ...
Article
    Social psychologists have addressed stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination for nearly a century. Everyday prejudices first seemed to lodge in abnormal personalities, pathological bigots who were exceptional (bad apples), but Freudian explanations proved inadequate. Purely cognitive explanations took their place, arguing that bias inevitably results from normal processes of categorization... [Show full abstract]
    Article
    April 2006 · Brain Research
      Social neuroscience, often viewed as studying the neural foundations of social cognition, has roots in multiple disciplines. This paper argues that it needs a firmer base in social psychology. First, we outline some major opportunities from social psychology--the power of social context and social motives in shaping human behavior. Second, as the social cognition field moves away from studying... [Show full abstract]
      Article
      August 2005 · Science
        Classical fear conditioning investigates how animals learn to associate environmental stimuli with an aversive event. We examined how the mechanisms of fear conditioning apply when humans learn to associate social ingroup and outgroup members with a fearful event, with the goal of advancing our understanding of basic learning theory and social group interaction. Primates more readily associate... [Show full abstract]
        Article
        October 2012
          This chapter investigated the variable of outcome interdependence, based on the principle that interdependent types of social relationships influence people's social cognitions and affect toward other people. The research shows that individual-level interdependence (both cooperative relationships and even competitive ones) create attention to the other person's individual attributes and reduce... [Show full abstract]
          Article
          April 2008 · Social Cognition
            People show medial prefrontal cortex and superior temporal sulcus (STS) activation when making dispositional. attributions to other people (Harris, Todorov, & Fiske, 2005) under conditions predicted by Kelley's (1972) ANOVA model. Here, participants make dispositional attributions to entire categories of objects under similar conditions; they also show greater activity in STS (implicated in... [Show full abstract]
            Discover more