The cortisol response to anticipated intergroup interactions predicts self-reported prejudice
SourcePLoS One, 7, 3, (2012), article e33681
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI AO
SubjectWork, Health and Performance
Objectives: While prejudice has often been shown to be rooted in experiences of threat, the biological underpinnings this threat-prejudice association have received less research attention. The present experiment aims to test activations of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, due to anticipated interactions with out-group predict self-reported prejudice. Moreover, we explore potential moderators of this relationship (i.e., interpersonal subtle vs. blatant prejudice). Methodology/Principal findings: Participants anticipated an interaction with an out-group member who was similar dissimilar to the self. To index HPA activation, cortisol responses to this event were measured. Then, subtle and prejudices were measured via questionnaires. Findings indicated that only when people anticipated an interaction with out-group member who was dissimilar to the self, their cortisol response to this event significantly predicted subtle (r = and blatant (r = .53) prejudice. Conclusions: These findings indicate that prejudicial attitudes are linked to HPA-axis activity. Furthermore, when interactions are interpreted to be about individuals (and not so much about groups), experienced threat (or its substrate) is less likely to relate to prejudice. This conclusion is discussed in terms of recent insights from neuroscience.
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