The neuroscience of prejudice and stereotyping: barbarians at the southern gate?

The neuroscience of prejudice and stereotyping: barbarians at the southern gate?

I want to recommend you the following extraordinary paper by David M. Amodio (currently at NYU Psychology Department. It is an outstanding review of the “… the neural basis of prejudice and stereotyping in an effort to identify the processes through which these biases form, influence behaviour and are regulated …” (Amodio, 2014: 670).

According to the author, we should differentiate between “prejudice” (an emotional-evaluative component of social bias) and “stereotyping” (cognitive-conceptual attributes linked to particular groups, as defined by culture).

Furthermore, he proposes the existence of three functional structures involved in the neural process of prejudice and stereotyping: 1) the prejudice network, 2) the stereotyping network, and 3) the regulation network.

The prejudice emotional network is comprised by the amygdala, together with the insula, the stratium, the orbital frontal cortex (ofc), and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (mpfc). The amygdala is considered the processor of “fear” per excellence, and as such “… is involved in the rapid processing of social category cues, including racial groups, in terms of potential threat or reward …”, thus, the extensive literature on “fear conditioning” should inform our understanding of “implicit prejudice” (see banaji & greenwald, 2013, for an outstanding analysis of implicit attitudes and social biases), specifically regarding how this form of bias may be eventually extinguished. (p. 672).

Complementing the amygdala, the Insula “… supports visceral and subjective emotional responses towards social ingroups or outgroups …”, while the stratium mediates approach related goal-directed responses, through the computation of the value of anticipated outcomes and potential actions, such as the ones potentially derived from inter-group interaction. The OFC seems to reinforce this particular function of the stratium, because it is associated with deliberative judgements about the prospect of “befriending” outgroups.

Finally, the mPFC, which is considered also a part of the OFC, is primarily associated with the formation of impressions about other people, especially those that require considering a person’s unique perspective and motives (i.e. “mentalizing”), and thus it is considered to be related to the process of “empathy”. Hence, weaker mPFC in response to a social target is associated with “dehumanization” (a form of prejudice) and a lack of empathy (such as the famous case of Phineas Gage extensively documented by Damasio, 2005).

On its part, the stereotyping cognitive functional network is comprised by the Temporal Lobe (Anterior – ATL – and Lateral -LTL), Dorsal mPFC and the Lateral PFC. The LTL is generally involved in the process of “semantic memory”, and thus particularly with “… representations of stereotype-related knowledge about people and social groups in the ATL …” (p. 675). Besides its involvement in the elaboration of prejudice, the mPFC is associated with the “… representation of an individual’s traits, preferences and mental states during impression formation …”, and thus with stereotyping.

Acerca del autor: Doctor y Maestro en Economía, Maestro en Finanzas y Licenciado en Ingeniería en Sistemas Computacionales por la Universidad de las Américas Puebla, adicionalmente está por concluir una Maestría en Neurociencias Aplicadas a la Mercadotecnia con Especialidad en Neuromarketing Político, por la Universidad Internacional de la Rioja. Cuenta con experiencia profesional en el ramo turístico, automotriz y financiero, además del académico. Participó como consejero del Grupo Financiero Asemex-Banpais. Ha trabajado en la gestión de carteras y otros rubros financieros. Ha sido Miembro Fundador del Consejo Administrativo de la institución, Consejero Fundador del Centro de Responsabilidad Social SUSTENTA, y ha impartido clases en los Departamentos de Banca e Inversiones y Economía, además del Posgrado de la Escuela de Negocios y Economía. Adicionalmente, participa en la gestión y consultoría de empresas familiares, además de hacer investigación en historia empresarial, economía conductual y neuromarketing político, especializándose en el estudio de la persuasión política subconsciente, con su tesis titulada: “El populismo: la neurosegmentación política del indigente cognitivo”. Es Miembro de Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA) de International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), de American Economic Association y de Financial Management Association International. Cuenta con una especialidad de reconocimiento de Micro expresiones, nivel experto por Paul Ekman Group. Actualmente, funge como Director Académico del Departamento de Banca e Inversiones y es profesor de tiempo completo dentro de la Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

Por: Dr. Felipe de Jesús Bello Gómez.

Academic Director of Banking and Investment, UDLAP.

Contenido disponible en PDF.

Anterior Nanoadsorbentes. Aplicación en remediación ambiental
Siguiente Democracia, seguridad y un poco de ajedrez