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Bias 246Retraining your brain to stop prejudice

From a video by Nationswell

We all have biases - unconscious biases - the stuff you don't even know your brain is doing. This is because your brain has a built-in threat detector called the amygdala. It is there to help us react to threatening situations. The problem is our brain is quick to spot someone's characteristics like age, race, their social class and sort them into groups and our amygdala tells us to be wary of them and that is unconscious bias.

But there's good news - you can retrain your brain to reduce prejudice and bias.

Neuroscientist Professor Susan Fiske and her colleagues led an experiment that showed white participants a series of photos.

Some photos showed the faces of white people and some showed the faces of black people. When white participants were shown the faces of other white people, their amygdalas, didn't react. But when they were shown the faces of black people their amygdalas sent a warning - there might be danger.

White participants were then asked to judge whether the same people in the photos liked a certain vegetable. When they had to consider the person based not on a social group, but instead whether they preferred broccoli or carrots, their amygdalas chilled out and they viewed the faces of black and white people in the same way. 

That's because their amygdalas were seeing the faces as unique individuals with personality traits not anonymous threats. 

You can replicate this study and retrain your own brain. The next time you see someone who seems different from you, who makes you tense for reasons that you can't explain, ask yourself, "Do they like broccolli or carrots?".  When you do it will retrain your amygdala to see people as individuals who maybe aren't so different from you after all.

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From a video by Nationswell, 12/06/2020

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