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Chapter 7

PSYC12H3 Chapter 7: Lecture 7 Readings

Course Code
Nick Hobson

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Empathy Constrained: Prejudice Predicts Reduced Mental Simulation of Actions During
Observation of Outgroups
Main Points
- Perception-action-coupling activating neural system when you perceive action; important
for interpersonal sensitivity, e.g. empathy; shaped by selective attention and motivation
- Limited to IG so neural motor networks will only fire when you perceive object-person to
belong to IG, not for the OG
- Mu suppression measure of motor cortex activity; when it’s low, you are not simulating
the other person’s actions; highest for self condition, IG, East Asians, Blacks, South Asians
- 3 conditions ingroup (white people), outgroup (disliked groups), and self
- They watched videos of IG/OG reaching for a glass and they had to then do that too; they
also filled out a symbolic racism scale
- Most mu suppression/motor cortex activity when acting and watching IG act but not OG;
more prejudiced they were, even less mu suppression, and for disliked groups
- Mirror-neuron-system system of neurons that builds shared networks for perception of
disgust, pain, touch, facial expressions; less active for OG members
- People only show activity in brain areas related to pain when they see people they like in
pain and less activity for ethnic outgroup members
- Hard for us to empathize with other people because of this cognitive perspective taking
can help by increasing sensitivity and fostering self-other merging
The Mere Presence of an Outgroup Member Disrupts the Brain’s Feedback-Monitoring System
Main Points
- Social identity affects goal-directed behaviours people are biased to minimize potential
threats and bolster their social identity
- People are motivated to monitor and learn from their behaviour more or less depending on
who’s around them e.g. negative info is more salient in presence of IG member than OG
- Minimal group manipulation using dot task did a task for money while being observed by
IG/OG member and then did a Feelings Thermometer toward the observer (more warm
feelings toward IG); the presence of the other person/confederate impacted neural activity
in feedback monitoring, e.g. the feedback-related negativity (FRN) which reflects neural
reactivity to external feedback
- More negative FRN for losing feedback than winning especially for the IG member
- Normal FRN is reduced when OG is watching you perform and their intergroup bias score
moderated effects of observer when biased, group membership predicted FRN activity
change more than when not biased; when biased, more activity in FRN with IG and less with
OG only biased people show the most disruption in feedback monitoring around OG
- Feedback in presence of IG led to a normal FRN signal but lower signal when OG; the
difference was even more stark for people who had reported higher intergroup bias
- P300 was also modulated but didn’t affect feedback monitoring
- Intergroup interactions are context dependent so in some situations, you might have to be
more focused on the OG, e.g. when they are hostile
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