SIG: Inclusion in Neuroscience - Post 15
Author: Olivia Mathis
Research assistant for the B-RAD Lab at the University of Alabama
This week’s inclusion in neuroscience discussion focused on research by Catherine A. Cottrell and Steven L. Neuberg on Different Emotional Reactions to Different Groups. The article primarily suggested that conceptualizing prejudice as a singular attitude is actually problematic due to the wide range of emotions truly included in being prejudice towards different groups.
“…we believe that there is great value in contemplating seriously Allport’s more textured observation—that just as people may hold qualitatively distinct beliefs about different groups, they may feel qualitatively distinct emotions towards different groups.”
-Cottrell & Neuberg (2005)
This article evoked many different conversations through the meeting, ranging from discussions on how we collect potentially biased information as well as social changes that need to be made as a means of addressing prejudice, that way we can eliminate it in as many settings as possible.
One lab member questioned the methodology of this specific research article due to the fact that they primarily used surveys to collect data from participants. The two hundred thirty-five participants were given questionnaire packets in which they rated a set of nine groups: activist feminists, African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, fundamentalist Christians, gay men, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and non-fundamentalist Christians. Groups were chosen based on their potential to pose a range of threats to the participants’ ethnic in-group which was primarily European American.
The question here is whether researchers should rely solely on surveys to answer questions that are easily skewed due to personal biases. For example, if someone knows they have a prejudice, most people may tend to be defensive about it—therefore not being truthful in the survey and skewing data. We do not suggest fully doing away with survey-based data collection, only doing away with primarily relying on survey data as opposed to a variety of different measures to ensure validity of the study and its’ results.
Aside from the methods of this study, we primarily focused our discussion on tying the results of this article into ways that we can improve social injustices caused by prejudice. The research shows that when an out-group is seen to gain in-group economic resources, damage in-group property, diminish freedoms and rights provided to in-group members, etc. are interfering with the established in-group norms and social coordination. This is where prejudice tends to come into play, when in-group members feel the need to re-establish their group’s norms onto other groups that seem to be a threat.
Awareness and education seem to be the most agreed upon methods for decreasing the levels of prejudice we see in our every-day society. Listed below are some ways that our lab members suggested doing so:
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