Hard Wired Prejudice

by | Nov 24, 2016


Scientific research has shown that the human brain responds more strongly to information about groups of people portrayed unfavourably.  This suggests the negative depiction of ethnic or religious minorities in the media can add to prejudice.

Neuroscientist, Hugo Spiers of University College London, points out how negative stories stand out and how news is full of what we dislike.  If someone from a stereotyped bad group of people does something normally pleasant and normally favoured, they are assumed to be doing it for some other purpose as our brains cannot credit them.

Brain scans of people looking at pictures of groups of people deemed as good or bad, taking actions that the watcher thought “good” or “bad” showed that the negative snippets about the “bad” group became deemed as more and more negative.  More so than if the good group did similar “bad” things.

This is the functioning within the brain that shows implicit bias developing into prejudice.

See http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/jocn_a_01056

What is the answer?  We believe it is necessary to actively check oneself and any other being to question assumptions about any other person and always make a humble enquiry.