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: Guinea president declares 45-day Ebola 'emergency' in five regions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Brain study yields insight into machinery of prejudice

May 17, 2006

By scanning subjects' brains while they were thinking about people either politically like or different from them, researchers have found that different areas of the brain are active in the two cases. The researchers said ...

Recommended for you

Third Minnesota turkey farm hit by bird flu outbreak

13 hours ago

An outbreak of a bird flu strain that's deadly to poultry deepened Saturday when state and federal officials confirmed a third Minnesota turkey farm has been infected, this time in one of the state's top poultry producing ...

New way to evaluate meniscus tear outcomes

19 hours ago

An individual's meniscus (cushion in the knee) is one of the most important ligaments in the leg providing stability, load bearing and preservation of the knee joint. It is also one of the most easily injured areas and difficult ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.