A vaccination against social prejudice
Evolutionary psychologists suspect that prejudice is rooted in survival: Our distant ancestors had to avoid outsiders who might have carried disease. Research still shows that when people feel vulnerable to illness, they exhibit more bias toward stigmatized groups. But a new study in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science suggests there might be a modern way to break that link.
We thought if we could alleviate concerns about disease, we could also alleviate the prejudice that arises from them, says Julie Y. Huang of the University of Toronto, about a study she conducted with Alexandra Sedlovskaya of Harvard University; Joshua M. Ackerman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Yale Universitys John A. Bargh. The group found that the sense of security derived through measures such as vaccination and hand washing can reduce bias against out groups, from immigrants to the obese.
The researchers conducted three experiments. The first two (with 135 and 26 participants, respectively) looked at peoples reactions to threats of the flu. In the first, some participants were already vaccinated, others not. Half the subjectsincluding members of both groupsread a cautionary passage about the flu. In experiment 2, all the participants had been vaccinated. They read a similar text, but some of them read one with a section saying the vaccine is effective; the others received only an explanation of how it functions. In both experiments, participants answered questionnaires assessing their level of prejudicein the first, particularly toward immigrants, in the second, toward numerous groups, including crack addicts and obese people.
The findings: In experiment 1, among those who read the textand were thus reminded of the disease threatthe vaccinated showed less anti-immigrant sentiment than the unvaccinated. There was no significant difference among those who didnt read the passage. In experiment 2, those who got assurances of the vaccines effectiveness showed less bias. Even when everyone is actually protected, comments Huang, the perception that they are well protected attenuates prejudice.
In the third experiment, with 26 undergraduate participants, half used a hand wipe to wipe their hands and the keyboard of a computer they were using. The others didnt. The text they read included the statement that anti-bacterial hand wipes help protect against contagion. These students were assessed for their nervousness about germsa signal of feeling vulnerable to diseaseand their feelings toward seven out-groups and two in-groups (undergraduates and their families). As expected, among those who did not wipe their hands, germ aversion correlated positively with aversion to stigmatized groups. But the germ-averse hand-wipers didnt express prejudice. None showed bias toward people like themselves and their loved ones.
The studywhich is unique in uniting evolutionary psychology, social cognitive psychology, and public healthholds promise for reducing physical and social maladies at once. Write the authors, a public health intervention like vaccination or hand washing could be a modern treatment for [an] ancient affliction.
Provided by American Psychiatric Association
- Ironic Effects of Anti-Prejudice Messages Jul 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Is there a hidden bias against creativity? Nov 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- The first step to change: Focusing on the negative Nov 11, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Which way you lean -- physically -- affects your decision-making Nov 08, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- People with low self-esteem show more signs of prejudice Feb 23, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
18 hours ago From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
Psychology & Psychiatry 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Most Medicare beneficiaries treated in inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs) exhibit characteristics associated with hospital readmission, according to a report prepared for the National Association ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Skydivers show the same level of physical stress before every jump whether a first-timer or experienced jumper, say Northumbria researchers.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Children of depressed parents pick up on their parents' sadness—whether mom or dad realizes their mood or not.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 1 |
(HealthDay)—As many as one in five American children under the age of 17 has a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to a new federal report.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 16, 2013 | 2.2 / 5 (5) | 1 |
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
19 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
20 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0