Study detects prejudice in the brain

Jun 29, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've found people view members of social out-groups, such as homeless people, with disgust and not a feeling of fellow humanity.

Twenty-four Princeton University undergraduates viewed color photographs of different social groups, as well as images of objects such as the space shuttle, a sports car, a cemetery, and an overflowing toilet.

The pictures, say psychology researchers Lasana Harris and Susan Fiske, were designed to elicit emotions of pride, envy, pity, or disgust, as derived from the Stereotype Content Model, which predicts differentiated prejudices.

Medial prefrontal cortex, or MPFC, brain imaging determined if the students chose the correct emotion illustrated by the picture.

The MPFC is only activated when people think about themselves or another human. When viewing a picture representing disgust, however, researchers say no significant MPFC brain activity was recorded, providing evidence that while individuals may consciously see members of social out-groups as people, the brain processes social out-groups as something less than human.

The scientists say they believe brain imaging provides a more accurate depiction of such prejudice than verbal reporting usually used in research studies.

The findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Keep your teens safe on the road this summer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Six charged in global e-ticket hacking scheme

13 minutes ago

Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against six people in what authorities said was a global cyber-crime ring that created fraudulent e-tickets for major concerts and sporting events.

EU sets new energy savings target at 30%

23 minutes ago

After months of tough negotiations, the European Commission recommended Wednesday a new energy savings target of 30 percent so as to combat climate change and ensure self-sufficiency.

IHEP in China has ambitions for Higgs factory

23 minutes ago

Who will lay claim to having the world's largest particle smasher?. Could China become the collider capital of the world? Questions tease answers, following a news story in Nature on Tuesday. Proposals for ...

Recommended for you

Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer

2 hours ago

Asking patients if a suspicious skin lesion is painful or itchy may help doctors decide whether the spot is likely to be cancerous, according to a new study headed by Gil Yosipovitch, MD, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology ...

Monitoring pulse after stroke may prevent a second stroke

2 hours ago

New research suggests that regularly monitoring your pulse after a stroke or the pulse of a loved one who has experienced a stroke may be a simple and effective first step in detecting irregular heartbeat, a major cause of ...

User comments : 0