See? Told ya!

Subtitled: In which resistance boasts shamelessly

So two social neuroscientists at University of Toronto-Scarborough conducted a study which they concluded demonstrates that people’s brains react differently to people of other races. There are implications for empathy.  From Science Daily:

“Previous research shows people are less likely to feel connected to people outside their own ethnic groups, and we wanted to know why,” says Gutsell. “What we found is that there is a basic difference in the way peoples’ brains react to those from other ethnic backgrounds. Observing someone of a different race produced significantly less motor-cortex activity than observing a person of one’s own race. In other words, people were less likely to mentally simulate the actions of other-race than same-race people”

The trend was even more pronounced for participants who scored high on a test measuring subtle racism, says Gutsell.

“The so-called mirror-neuron-system is thought to be an important building block for empathy by allowing people to ‘mirror’ other people’s actions and emotions; our research indicates that this basic building block is less reactive to people who belong to a different race than you,” says Inzlicht.

One small problem:

Who was used for the study? Thirty “White, right-handed University of Toronto Scarborough students (13 female; Mage= 18.46, SD= 3.81).” You can read the paper here (.pdf).

However, the researchers conclude as follows:

Our research suggests that people do not mentally simulate the actions of outgroups.

“People,” of course, meaning white people.

Kai made this observation recently (go read the whole post while you’re at it):

Yet in actuality, if we step back, we know that white people usually do not view people of color as fully human, while people of color usually do confer a common humanity to all people and especially to white folks. Even the most hard-ass reverse racist, even through a red-hot veil of anger, probably still can’t help but see a fragile and fearful humanity within white people.

Anyway, just two of the costs of racism.

9 thoughts on “See? Told ya!

  1. 1. 30 people is a crap sample for *any* kind of study, especially 30 whites only.

    2. There are no statistical data for Kai’s assertion, however. It’s just an opinion at this point.

  2. No, 30 is not a crap sample size; statistical significance also depends on the difference between the results. Why do people keep saying this, when they obviously haven’t taken an intro statistics course? I mean, the researchers obviously have taken statistics, but people who haven’t think they know better?

    But yeah, they are making a logical error by making a conclusion about “people” when they only selected white people.

  3. I’m curious why people still think statistics are accurate metrics when design and sampling are so easily BSed. It’s not only a sense of statistics that count when reading such studies, but a sense of scientific method itself. Even a sense of psychology is needed for proper digestion in many cases because people easily lie in order to sound not-stupid.

    Thus you can prove ANYTHING with statistics. 48% of Americans know THAT.

  4. The things you want to say only to the people that agree with you are the least effective at moving us forward.

    Why are we so convinced? Any of us?

    I’m a very imperfect man, but I know this: if you stop doubting you stop learning.

    The race line was once something I lived at but didn’t know it and none of us cared really. Then I found myself away from it as I moved around the World. And now I find so few with enough confidence to disagree. Where everyone is seeking the other’s point of view. Not their own.

  5. Pingback: White people lack empathy for brown people, brain research shows. « Restructure!

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