Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prejudice from thin air

10.02.2004


Anger primes prejudice

You may be more prejudiced than you think, especially if you’re angry and approached by someone of a different race, religion or creed.

A study slated for publication in the Spring 2004 edition of Psychological Science (the flagship Journal of the American Psychological Society) by psychology professors David DeSteno and Nilanjana Dasgupta from Northeastern University and UMass Amherst respectively, reveals that the experience of anger causes automatic, immediate prejudices against those who are not a part of one’s social group. The study has particular relevance for those in professions requiring quick assessment and action, especially for those in jobs like law enforcement and security. Study participants included New York City residents and college undergraduates who were assigned to novel groups – either as individuals who tend to "over estimate" or "under estimate" numerical judgments – based on a bogus personality test they believed to be valid. They were then led to experience one of three emotional states -- anger, sadness, or neutrality. Once the emotions had been induced, participants completed rapid categorizations of faces of people in their in-groups or out-groups -- people who were both like them and unlike them with respect to the created estimator groups -- that were preceded by quickly displayed words that were either positive or negative in tone. These rapid response tasks provide a window into the spontaneous and non-conscious evaluations that individuals attached to the social groups.



As expected, among sad and neutral participants, no automatic bias against out-group members emerged. However, the presence of anger caused the mind to shift its perceptions and evaluate out-group members negatively, event though they had never encountered this group before. This finding provides, for the first time, compelling evidence showing that specific emotional states influence basic, automatic processes in the brain that are tied to one of the central challenges of social living: inter-group interaction.

DeSteno explains the study by use of an example. "Much as the experience of fear leads individuals to adaptive behaviors to avoid dangers (e.g., quickly recoiling from a snake in one’s path), the experience of anger, due its association with preparation for conflict, automatically shifts individuals’ rapid appraisals of social groups outside of their awareness or control," he says. "When conflict is likely, different equals bad, and the brain prepares to shape our behavior accordingly."

These findings are of import not only for psychological science, but for practical considerations as well. Dasgupta says that such non-conscious prejudices have been shown to affect behavior. "The findings hold important implications by suggesting that anger may increase the likelihood of aggressive or derogatory behaviors in situations requiring rapid judgments (e.g., a police officer or soldier judging an approaching member of an unfamiliar group as representing a threat and acting accordingly)," she says. "It is useful to note that these automatic prejudices can be overcome by exerting time and effort to consider judgments of social groups, but these are luxuries that individuals often do not have."


For a complete copy of the study, contact Brylee Maxfield at b.maxfield@neu.edu or (617) 373-2802.

Northeastern University, located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, is a world leader in cooperative education and recognized for its expert faculty and first-rate academic and research facilities. Through co-op, Northeastern undergraduates alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, giving them nearly two years of professional experience upon graduation. The majority of Northeastern graduates receive a job offer from a co-op employer. Cited for excellence two years running by U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern was named a top college in the northeast by the Princeton Review 2003/04. In addition, Northeastern’s career services was awarded top honors by Kaplan Newsweek’s "Unofficial Insiders Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges and Universities," 2003 edition. For more information, please visit http://www.northeastern.edu.

Brylee Maxfield | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northeastern.edu.

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>