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Lecture 7

PSYC12H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Implicit Stereotype, Research Question, Fusiform Face Area


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC12H3
Professor
Nick Hobson
Lecture
7

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Lecture 7: How prejudice affects visual processing & The neuroscience of prejudice
Required readings: A Neural Analysis of Intergroup Perception and Evaluation
- The implicit association between black skin and guns is leading police officers to see guns in
peoples hands with deadly consequences.
- Visual Perception is shaped by implicit bias: Black skin & crime example
- What is responsible?
- These atrociously high numbers are generally thought (by social psychologists) to be due to
implicit bias rather than (or at least in addition to) overt prejudice.
- The implicit association between black people and criminality may lead officers to engage in
non-conscious racial profiling.
- The recognition that implicit racial biases can be deadly, even in the absence of conscious bias, is
becoming increasingly commonplace in mainstream discussions of police violence.
- Implicit associations with criminality can influence the way an officer interprets ambiguous
behaviours.
- Thus, the same behaviours may lead to different conclusions depending on whether a suspect is
black or white.
- The non-conscious association between black skin and criminality can explain why officers are
primed to see a weapon or assume that one exists when Black men reach into their pockets or
the glove compartment of a car.
- On the other hand, implicit White favoritism illuminates why unarmed White men are
significantly less likely to be shot in similar circumstances.
Visual Perception is shaped by implicit bias: Eberhardt et al. (2004)
- The authors investigated the influence of stereotypic associations on visual processing in a series
of studies.
- Police officers and undergraduates were used as participants.
- Research question: Will merely exposing people to Black male faces lower the perceptual
threshold at which they detect degraded images of crime-relevant objects (e.g., guns and
knives)?
- This study demonstrates that Black faces influence participants’ ability to spontaneously detect
degraded images of crime-relevant objects.
- This suggests an implicit association between black faces and crime.
- Implicit associations may operate as visual tuning devicesproducing shifts in perception and
attention of a sort likely to influence decision making and behavior.
- This may explain why police frequently seem to shoot black victims mistakenly believing that
they are dangerous.
Visual Perception is shaped by implicit bias: Correll et al., 2002
- Correll and colleagues examined the effect of ethnicity on shoot/don’t shoot decisions using a
simple videogame paradigm.
- African American or White targets, holding guns or other objects, appeared in complex
backgrounds.
- Participants were told to “shoot” armed targets and to “not shoot” unarmed targets.
- To play the game, the participant needed to decide as quickly as possible whether the object the
man was holding was a gun or not.

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Lecture 7: How prejudice affects visual processing & The neuroscience of prejudice
- If the man posed an imminent danger, the participant needed to shoot him as quickly as
possible by pushing the a button labeled shoot. If he was holding some object other than a gun,
the participant needed to press the button labeled don’t shoot.
- The game awarded and deducted points on the basis of performance.
- In Study 1, White participants made the correct decision to shoot an armed target more quickly
if the target was African American than if he was White, but decided to “not shoot” an unarmed
target more quickly if he was White.
- Study 2 replicated this effect using a shorter time window.
- Study 3 replicated and showed that the magnitude of bias varied with perceptions of the
cultural stereotype.
- i.e., the more that participants perceived that there is a stereotype of African Americans being
aggressive and dangerous, the greater the magnitude of the effect.
- Study 4 revealed equivalent levels of bias among both African American and White participants
in a community sample.
Visual Perception is shaped by implicit bias: Unkelbach et al. (2008)
- In a follow-up study, Unkelbach and colleagues asked: “Are Muslim targets now likely to elicit
similar biases as Black targets?”
- The turban effect: The influence of Muslim headgear and induced affect on aggressive
responses in the shooter bias paradigm.
- Are Muslims’ subjected to the same implicit associations?
- In recent history, stereotypes have linked the Muslim faith to terrorism.
- Even though….# of Americans killed annually by: Islamic immigrants 2, Islamic terrorist is 9
- They predicted that under time pressure, people are more likely to ‘shoot’ at Muslim targets,
revealing their negative attitudes and increased aggressive tendencies towards Muslims.
- In a computer game, participants made rapid decisions to shoot at armed people, some of
whom wore Islamic head dress.
- Participants showed a greater bias to shoot at Muslim targets compared to non-Muslims,
confirming the main hypothesis that Muslim appearance facilitates aggressive reactions towards
a target.
- Finally, there was also a bias to shoot at males rather than females.
- Positive affect promotes heuristic use and increases judgmental errors (Forgas, 1998), enhances
reconstructive eyewitness errors (Forgas, Vargas, & Laham, 2005), and reduces attention to
concrete information (Forgas, 2007).
- Extrapolating from this evidence, the authors expected that people in a positive mood should
react to Muslim targets in a more top-down, stereotypical fashion, and hence, display a stronger
shooter bias against Muslims.
- Mood induction:
- Participants asked to write an email about their life goals to a partner they expected to meet
later in a ‘getting to know you’ exercise. They subsequently received derogatory (anger),
neutral, or positive mood-inducing feedback from their ‘partner’.
- Figure: General and differential shooter bias as a function of emotional state. The dependent
measure in the lower part is the difference in between non-Muslim and Muslim targets; thus,
higher values indicate a greater bias to shoot at Muslim targets.
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Lecture 7: How prejudice affects visual processing & The neuroscience of prejudice
- Happy participants showed the strongest selective bias to shoot at Muslims, confirming the
theoretical prediction that positive affect facilitated top-down, stereotype-driven responses and
thus greater aggressive tendencies against Muslims.
- *Angry participants showed a slightly greater bias to shoot than did happy or neutral
participants regardless of who they were shooting at.
- In sum, the authors found a significant bias for participants to shoot more at Muslim targets.
- Also, positive mood selectively increased aggressive tendencies towards Muslims.
- In contrast, induced anger increased the propensity to shoot at all targets.
Visual Perception is shaped by implicit bias: Goff et al. (2014)
- Children are typically perceived to have essential characteristics including innocence and the
need for protection (Haslam et al., 2000).
- Goff and colleagues examined whether Black boys are given the protections of childhood
equally to their peers.
- i.e., that Black boys are seen as less “childlike” than their White peers.
- The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children
- If there’s a * then the difference in perception of innocence differs significantly from Black
individuals for that age range
- Participants’ average age estimation accuracy for youth suspects of different races after
being primed with ape or cat pictures before looking at pictures of suspects.
- Participants’ average culpability ratings for child suspects of different races after being
primed with ape or cat pictures before looking at pictures of suspects
- Taken together, these studies found evidence that Black children are afforded the privilege
of innocence to a lesser extent than children of other races.
- Black boys are seen as more culpable for their actions (i.e., less innocent) within a criminal
justice context than are their peers of other races.
- Black boys are actually misperceived as older relative to peers of other races.
- The above was noted in undergraduate and police populations.
- Such racially disparate perceptions of Black boys may predict racially disparate police
violence toward Black children in real-world settings.
Discussion:
- In this context, what is the best place to intervene to stop the cycle of prejudice &
stereotyping?
Police anti-bias training and interventions
Wearable technologies to mitigate the number of errors committed
- Any suggestions about what might help to reduce implicit associations between crime &
black skin to help to mitigate the high shooting rates among police officers?
- Should police officers be given implicit association tests before being hired?
The neuroscience of prejudice
- In the year 2000, researchers began examining the neural bases of prejudice using the
methods of neuroscience.
- These studies have generally found that social group membership (e.g., race, sex, etc.)
appears to influence brain function -- from early visual processing to higher order aspects of
executive function and deliberate thought.
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