Study finds bias, disgust toward mixed-race couples

Study finds bias, disgust toward mixed-race couples
Credit: University of Washington

Interracial marriage has grown in the United States over the past few decades, and polls show that most Americans are accepting of mixed-race relationships.

A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that interracial marriages in the U.S. had doubled between 1980 and 2010 to about 15 percent, and just 11 percent of respondents disapproved of interracial marriage.

But new research from the University of Washington suggests that reported acceptance of interracial marriage masks deeper feelings of discomfort—even disgust—that some feel about mixed-race couples. Published online in July in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and co-authored by UW postdoctoral researcher Caitlin Hudac, the study found that bias against interracial couples is associated with disgust that in turn leads interracial couples to be dehumanized.

Lead author Allison Skinner, a UW postdoctoral researcher, said she undertook the study after noting a lack of in-depth research on bias toward interracial couples.

"I felt like the polls weren't telling the whole story," said Skinner, a researcher in the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

The research involved three experiments. In the first, 152 college students were asked a series of questions about relationships, including how disgusted they felt about various configurations of interracial relationships and about their own willingness to have an interracial romance. The participants overall showed high levels of acceptance and low levels of disgust about interracial relationships, and pointed to a strong negative correlation between the two.

In the second experiment, the researchers showed 19 undergraduate students wedding and engagement photos of 200 interracial and same-race couples while recording their neural activity. The researchers asked the students to quickly indicate whether each couple should be included in a future study on relationships, a task that was intended to ensure participants were socially evaluating the couples while their neural activity was recorded.

Participants responded faster to images of same-race couples and selected them more often for inclusion in the study. More significantly, Skinner said, participants showed higher levels of activation in the insula—an area of the brain routinely implicated in the perception and experience of disgust—while viewing images of interracial couples.

"That indicates that viewing images of interracial couples evokes disgust at a neural level," Skinner said.

As with all neuroscience studies, Skinner said, it is impossible to be certain whether the insula activation reflected a disgust response, since the insula is sometimes responsive to other emotions. But in combination with the other experiments, the authors believe it is evidence of a neural disgust response.

Lastly, the researchers used an implicit association test, used to measure attitudes and beliefs people may be unwilling to acknowledge, to gauge whether feeling disgusted would impact more than 200 participants' feelings about interracial couples. One group was first shown a series of disgusting images (a dirty toilet, a person vomiting), while the other was shown pleasant images of cityscapes and nature.

During the implicit association test, the two groups were tasked with categorizing photographs of same-race and interracial couples and silhouettes of humans and animals. They were first instructed to press one computer key if the image showed an animal silhouette or a mixed-race couple, and another key if it was a human silhouette or a same-race couple. Then the combinations were switched—participants were told to hit one key if the image was an animal silhouette or a same-race couple, and the other key if it was a human silhouette or mixed-race couple.

Participants were quicker to associate interracial couples with non-human animals and same-race couples with humans. That suggests that interracial couples are more likely to be dehumanized than same-race couples, the researchers write, and previous studies have shown that people tend to exhibit more antisocial behavior and are more likely to use aggression and even violence toward dehumanized targets.

Taken together, the experiments show that despite high levels of reported acceptance, bias against mixed-race couples persists in the United States, the researchers say. In 2013, they note, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen caused a furor when he wrote that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's interracial marriage incited "a gag reflex" among some people, prompting the Post to write a follow-up story about the controversy.

Such sentiments, Skinner said, belie the notion that most Americans are ready to embrace mixed-race romance.

"Some people are still not comfortable with interracial relationships, or at least they're a lot less comfortable than they would appear to be," she said. "Acknowledging these biases is the first step to figuring out why people feel that way and determining what can be done so they won't."


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Where we live affects our bias against mixed-race individuals, psychology study finds

More information: Allison L. Skinner et al, "Yuck, you disgust me!" Affective bias against interracial couples, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.05.008
Citation: Study finds bias, disgust toward mixed-race couples (2016, August 17) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-08-bias-disgust-mixed-race-couples.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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Aug 17, 2016
Studies of Studies that do not find bias and disgust find bias and disgust of such studies.

BSD
Aug 17, 2016
Studies of Studies that do not find bias and disgust find bias and disgust of such studies.


Why?

Aug 17, 2016
The thing about implicit bias is that it's cultural and so any study that shows a stated preference should not be discounted. We all have implicit biases built into us by our upbringing and society. Most mature adults recognise those biases and deliberately account for them, knowing them to be irrational.

We're all "racist". The difference between a racist person and one that's not is that the latter recognises those inherent prejudices and deliberately rejects them as invalid and illogical. But they're still there, as much as we'd like to excise them.

Aug 18, 2016
We're all "racist". The difference between a racist person and one that's not is that the latter recognises those inherent prejudices and deliberately rejects them as invalid and illogical. But they're still there, as much as we'd like to excise them.

Why invalid and illogical? Usually when something has been so all-present for such a long time, there is a deeper reason for it, even if you are not aware of it yet. And it's never a good idea to suppress people's feelings in the name of political correctness.
Any way, people should still focus on preference for their own kin rather than trying to be as hateful as possible to other.

Aug 18, 2016
We're all "racist". The difference between a racist person and one that's not is that the latter recognises those inherent prejudices and deliberately rejects them as invalid and illogical. But they're still there, as much as we'd like to excise them.

I don't buy that. Kids aren't racist. They don't care for the color of the other kid who plays with them. Racism is an acquired trait.
There are countries where the vast majority really don't care one way or another (try the Netherlands)
Whether it's directly taught or indirectly insinuated into the psyche (via general societal climate, or constantly harping about the subject in a negative OR positive fashion as in the US) is another matter .

In the words of Mitch Hedberg
You know when it comes to racism, people say: " I don't care if they're black, white, purple or green"… Ooh hold on now: Purple or Green? You gotta draw the line somewhere! To hell with purple people! - Unless they're suffocating - then help'em.

Aug 18, 2016
@antialias_physorg did you even read my comment? Between you and me, it helps

Aug 18, 2016
I don't buy that. Kids aren't racist. They don't care for the color of the other kid who plays with them. Racism is an acquired trait.


Kids not discriminating against their peers is simply because they're kids - in the mean while they're actually learning who is "us" and who is "them" and become suspicious of the kind of people they didn't interact with when they were young.

Nobody foists racism on them, it's a thing that arises automatically because humans are fundamentally tribal and territorial. That's readily apparent on how, when scientific racism became a thing, white people found all sorts of ways to classify other white people as "not white" - e.g. using the Irish as slaves before the African slave trade picked up.

Linnaeus, the father of the whole idea of classifying people into races, was a Swede who classified the neighboring Finns as sub-human, even though genetically they're basically identical.

Racism is a feature of humanity.

Aug 18, 2016
Racism is a feature of humanity

Most disgusting thing I'll probably see all day... Let me fix that statement for you:

Racism is a feature of humanity's culture

Aug 18, 2016
There are countries where the vast majority really don't care one way or another (try the Netherlands


I can buy the argument that some people are more or less exclusive, but I don't buy the argument that the Netherlanders aren't inherently racist.

The Dutch are diplomats. They don't let you know what they think unless necessary. Black man, white man, you don't need to like them to do business with them - but see what happens when you introduce an arab muslim.

Aug 18, 2016
Most disgusting thing I'll probably see all day... Let me fix that statement for you:

Racism is a feature of humanity's culture


No. It really is a feature of humanity. We have always discriminated against outsiders and formed inside/outside distinctions - even the idea of "culture" implies that there's people who belong and people who don't, based on completely arbitrary distinctions as to the defining features - and "racism" is simply one manifestation of that trait.

If you get that, you'll see the "anti-racists" are the most racist of them all - only, their discrimination is on a much higher level of "I'm more tolerant than you", rather than the vulgar "my skin color is better than yours".


Aug 18, 2016
The description of the experiment is very flawed, and the experiment, itself, may be invalid. Among other things, what were the races and genders of those whose feelings toward interracial relationships were assessed? Were they all white? Is this supposed to be a veiled condemnation of whites? What are feelings seeing Oriental and Hispanic interracial couples or white and Oriental? Is it black men and white women, implying a power of black over white, or also white men and black women? The article seems to have focused only on blacks and whites and, interestingly, seems to have taken the mean of readings for seeing black men and white women and white men with black women to mask, say, if blacks prefer a black man with power over a white woman as opposed to a white man married to a black woman. And the article seems to ignore racial differences in spiritual and mental levels being real and a cause of the feelings.

Aug 18, 2016
I don't buy that. Kids aren't racist. They don't care for the color of the other kid who plays with them. Racism is an acquired trait
AA is still enamoiured with the 70s notion that human beings are tabula rasa - blank slate - and can be taught to do and believe most anything.

Science has since disguarded such sociopolitically-derived nonsense in favor of evolutionary psychology... the understanding that as animals we are born with certain behaviors hardwired, and must be taught/trained to resist them.

Speciation requires that groups which have adapted to new environs resist recombination. Temperate animals would have much to lose by mating with tropical animals. Their offspring would be more vulnerable to harsh winter weather for instance.

Tropical interlopers would however seek to gain these adaptations for their offspring.

This is a biological basis for prejudice at the level of the individual.
cont>

Aug 18, 2016
Humans developed in the context of the tribe. Tribes which could maintain stronger internal cohesion in conjunction with external animosity could be expected to prevail in competition over resources.

This is the tribal dynamic, and it offers an explanation for prejudice at the level of the group. This dynamic has created modern human beings. It has operated over the course of 1000s of generations, so that our affinity for group exclusivity has become biological.

IOW the conclusion is that prejudice, while destructive to the illusion of the universal tribe which we are all expected to adhere to, is normal to both the process of speciation and to the tribal social order.

As to the potential for success of interracial couplings, one cannot ignore the relative effects of group affinities, family pressures, and even climate as a significant subliminal influence on the perception of the potential for offspring to both survive to reproduce and to contribute to the group.

Aug 18, 2016
AAs hero mitch hedberg

"Hedberg had been interviewed by Jonathan Davis in the December 2001 issue of Penthouse. In the interview, published three years before his death, he was asked, "If you could choose, how would you end your life?" His response: "First, I'd want to get famous, and then I'd overdose. If I overdosed at this stage in my career, I would be lucky if it made the back pages."" (he did)

-An obviously dependable source of objective insight into things psychological and sociological.

Aug 18, 2016
I can totally believe that there may be structures in the more primitive sections of the brain that perceive a person who shares your outward appearance romantically embracing an "other" as "disgusting", or "bestial". The human brain and body is a mishmash of all kinds of things that kept us alive at one point, however arbitrarily, and got swept up in the ride to the future.

Biologically, we are programmed to want to mate with others after puberty. We overcome our biological urges, and give them less priority than our societal drives and urges, and don't just devolve into rutting apes having sex the moment menstruation clears us. From a civilized viewpoint, that part of our nature is reserved for behind closed doors with consenting adults, but it doesn't mean it isn't still a part of us along for the ride.

Do we have base "them vs us" instincts? Sure. But being human and civilized is knowing that they aren't relevant anymore. Overcoming them, rather than being proud of them.

Aug 18, 2016
Biologically, we are programmed to want to mate with others after puberty
Well we dont want to mate with just anybody. We mate to produce the most suitable offspring.

Males and females have conflicting reproductive strategies. A male will want to impregnate as many females as possible as this gives the best assurance that his genes will survive to the next generation.

A female in contrast has much more invested in each pregnancy and so will seek to select the best possible donor for each and every child she wishes to bear.

So while males do tend to prefer quantity it is females who will select for quality when given the opportunity. And the traditional way to ascertain quality is to compel males to compete for repro rights.

These prerogatives are in direct conflict with intratribal harmony.

Aug 18, 2016
As I said, a mature adult understands that implicit biases constructed by society and culture are irrational and invalid.

Aug 19, 2016
As I said, a mature adult understands that implicit biases constructed by society and culture are irrational and invalid
The biases you are talking about serve 2 functions; to assist in the success of tribes in competition with others, and to aid in the creation of new species. They are neither irrational nor invalid.
Some men want quality off-spring and these build fortifications, thus civilization, to realize this
All men are animals. Some are more domesticated than others. The repro strategies I mentioned exist in all sexually dimorphic species because the female is the one that bears children.

Aug 20, 2016
Racism is a new thing in history. It has its roots in hundreds of years of slavery in North America, where racism as we now know it has its roots. Enter the phrenologists and the Nazis with their white supremacist views, which the vast majority of Europeans took issue with even then as so much narrow minded bigotry, and the reprehensible seeds of racism takes hold of the mentality of foolish and ignorant people. I was born in the Netherlands and my maternal Dutch grandmother's grandfather was black. I was shown the photo, and while I was mildly intrigued by that as a young child, there was never any hint of prejudice. It's American in origin and Americans need to wake up to reality and cleanse their collective conscience because racism is the domain of the stupid and ignorant and you don't want to go down in history as a stupid and ignorant society.

Aug 21, 2016
Racism is a new thing in history
I'm wondering if you could know any less about the subject.
I was born in the Netherlands and my maternal Dutch grandmother's grandfather was black
-And so this gives you the authority to reinvent the history of prejudice?

You do know that the brits first brought slaves to the new world don't you? And that Arabs were enslaving people around the Mediterranean along with xians during the middle ages? And at times upwards of 80% of the population of Rome were slaves? And the mythical Israelites were slaves in egypt?

Guess not.

Just how ignorant are you? On a scale of 1 to 10?

Aug 23, 2016
Just how ignorant are you? On a scale of 1 to 10?
your ignorance is paramount. To you, no-one's experience means a damn because you are the overseer of all knowledge and far be it from anyone to claim more than you. You're also deviating.

I don't see England as part of Europe, and their latest referendum merely confirms that. She's always had exploitation and piracy as her primary dynamic so she fell right into the slave trade as a matter of course. Neither was I including Arab slavers and Ancient Romans in my discussion.

We are discussing racism, the product of that dull and low brow white supremacist population in the southern states who push black people around for their personal gratification because they perceive them as lesser individuals. That's racism - just stupidity. That situation and that kind of treatment of blacks simply doesn't and has never existed in Europe.

Ever met an educated black man from the Netherlands Antilles? They're better than you.

Aug 24, 2016
We are discussing racism, the product of that dull and low brow white supremacist population in the southern states who push black people around for their personal gratification
Perhaps we should start with a proper definition.

"prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior."

-and then consider for a moment the centuries of pogrom and shtetl-burning throughout europe. As to blacks in europe;

"...several examples relating to the main set of prejudices: the African was generally identified as a naked person who would mutilate his/her face and body with scarification, piercings, and tattoos; he/she would be considered as carefree and characterized by immoderate laughter, unaware of his/her condition, lazy and sexually promiscuous, physically strong, a good musician or dancer..."
Cont>

Aug 24, 2016
"black slaves were a sign of social prestige and distinction in a cosmopolitan court: this feature explains why Catherine spent so much money clothing and offering them as exotic gifts to her favourite ladies and relatives in other European courts..."
http://www.histor...view/619

-Read the whole thing. Slavery and anti-black bigotry was rife throughout europe. African inferiority was a given.
We are discussing racism, the product of that dull and low brow white supremacist population in the southern states
And I really do hate bigots like yourself.

Aug 24, 2016
britain... slave trade
Brits were not the only slave traders.

"Malta remained a veritable slave-market until well into the eighteenth century. It required a thousand slaves to equip merely the galleys of the order [of the Knights of malta], which were a hell for those unfortunates..."

Aug 24, 2016
"The first ones were the Portuguese, who, applying an idea that originally developed in Italian seatrading cities, and often using Italian venture capital, started exploiting sub-Saharan slaves in the 1440s to support the economy of the sugar plantations (mainly for their own African colonies of Sao Tome and Madeira).

"The Dutch were the first, apparently, to import black slaves into North America, but black slaves had already been employed all over the world, including South and Central America."
http://www.scaruf...tra.html

-You make up your own facts or use the facts of other propagandists to support your own anti-American views.

Aug 24, 2016
"And I really do hate bigots like yourself."
---------------------------

I think bigots "defend" themselves by calling others bigots. Using quotations from others means nothing except the lack of experience and knowledge.

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