|Brain peptide research may lead to promising new treatments for mental illnesses
||Recent research points to the importance of a molecule called relaxin-3 in the brain, with effects on various processes and behaviors such as mood, stress, and cognition. Because these are often aberrant in mental illnesses, investigators are studying the potential of relaxin-3-based interventions to treat depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
|Life... Don't Talk to Me About Life
||The U.K. press recently picked up our paper about violence and gambling. Here's why they (and other traits) tend to go together and why this matters.
|Life. Don't Talk to Me About Life
||The national press (UK) recently picked up our paper about violence and gambling. Here's why they (and other traits) tend to go together and why this matters.
|Setting Goals With ADHD
||As I talked about a few posts ago, there’s no shortage of ways to be unproductive with ADHD. From procrastination to distraction, ADHD has plenty of tricks for sabotaging your … ...
|Letting Go of a Depression Cure Can Set You Free
||I keep going back to this quote by Vivian Greene when it comes to learning how to live with my chronic illness: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” In fact, every morning I drink … ...
|"Cloudy with a Chance of Pain" Embodies Citizen Science
||A groundbreaking initiative in the UK is using smartphone technology and citizen science to identify whether damp and gray weather really does cause stiffness in your joints
|Today I Love The Still Quiet Of Early Morning
||Today I love the still quiet of early morning before the hum and thrum of the waking world begins. I love the light creeping slowly down the western edge of … ...
|Family caregivers for patients with cancer experience high levels of anxiety, depression
||A new multi-state survey shows that nearly one-quarter to one-third of family caregivers of patients with high-mortality cancers experience high levels of depression and anxiety symptoms.
|#211 Making Friends with Technology
||It is always difficult to deal with change. We know that the transformations wrought by technology are amazing and wonderful. Yet there is an ever-growing suspicion that it is threatening … ...
|The #1 Shortcut to Greater Productivity
||Why Adderall and other stimulants backfire for productivity—and what to do instead
|The Ghost of Situationism and Why Personality is Not a Myth
||A recent podcast on the "Myth" of personality trots out long discredited arguments against the reality of personality. Why do these ideas keep returning like a restless ghost?
|Driving or talking? The brain concentrates on one thing at a time
||When we are busy with something that requires the use of sight, the brain reduces hearing to make it easy for us, concludes a new study. The results give researchers a deeper understanding of what happens in the brain when we concentrate on something.
|I Have ADHD, I Can’t Say No
||Please don’t ask me, I can’t say no. Well, I can, but it hurts. I mean, it really hurts. I’m a retired contractor, retired as of three months ago. I’ve … ...
|How to Avoid Picking Up Prejudice from the Media
||In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, killing more than a thousand people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
That was terrible. But news media may have turned this natural disaster into a disaster for American race relations by repeatedly broadcasting images of black people who were often described as “looting” in the catastrophic wake of the storm. According to a study by James Johnson and colleagues, these types of images may lead white people to endorse harsh treatment of black evacuees (by, for example, not allowing them to seek refuge in another parish). Participants were not any less likely to help white evacuees, suggesting that racial stereotypes of blacks as criminals may have played a role.
News media aren’t the only problem. In another study, the researchers found that exposure to hyper-sexualized rap music (as compared to non-sexualized rap music or no music) led participants to feel less empathy for a young black woman who was pregnant and in need of assistance—which was not the case for a young white woman in a similar situation. Why? Because exposure to the hyper-sexualized rap music seemed to have activated a stereotype that black women are more sexually promiscuous.
Other minority groups—“out-groups” in relation to the majority—are portrayed negatively in media as well. Research shows that Latinos are often depicted as low status, criminal, and as sexual objects, while East Asians and Native American characters are rarely seen in the media. When they are, East Asian characters are commonly depicted as devious villains and Native American characters tend to be depicted as animalistic and savage. Middle Easterners are often portrayed as terrorists in both news and entertainment media. These stereotypic depictions can lead us to feel and behave more negatively toward these groups.
Yes, media have historically shown minority groups in a negative light, and these portrayals can exacerbate prejudice and discriminatory behaviors. But sometimes media are our only way of connecting with minority groups at all. Indeed, media may be the only contact some people have with minority groups, especially those living in homogenous communities.
Here are steps we can all take to limit the negative impact of stereotypes in the media—and maximize the positive benefits media may have on our attitudes toward out-groups.
When media impact is positive
In a study we conducted at the University of Toronto, people reported on how much they saw different social groups (like Latin Americans, the elderly, and gays and lesbians) in the media each day for 10 days. We also asked them report on all the direct social interactions they had with these groups each day, and their attitudes toward them.
We found that media contact consistently predicted more positive attitudes toward social out-groups. Importantly, seeing groups in the media was a stronger and more reliable predictor of positive intergroup attitudes than directly interacting with these groups.
This is likely because people were not having direct social interactions with many different out-group members very often, but they were frequently seeing a wide range of out-groups in the media. Even in Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, people report few direct social interactions with out-group members. This demonstrates just how important media is for providing opportunities for cross-group contact.
Our findings echo the results of other experiments. In a series of studies, Edward Schippa and colleagues found that watching media interactions with gay and transgender characters were related to more positive attitudes toward gay men and transgender people in general. They call this dynamic the parasocial contact hypothesis, which states that we can have one-sided interactions with media characters, perceiving them as real people and feeling like we could know them in real life. When we have these interactions with out-group media characters, we may feel better about the out-group as a whole.
But we’re not just being exposed to different groups through media—we’re also being exposed to interactions between members of different social groups. When we watch other members of our group have positive interactions with out-group members, we learn that positive interaction is possible. This appears to reduce our own concerns about interacting with the out-group.
Indeed, studies have found that when people consume media that include positive interactions between in-group and out-group characters, they seem to feel more positively toward those groups, and they show more interest in interacting with members of those groups.
How to minimize the impact of negative stereotypes
It is clear that seeing groups presented in a positive way is important for improving intergroup attitudes—and, clearly, if journalists and media-makers want to have a positive impact on society, they should think carefully about how they portray minorities.
However, if we as individuals are not able to avoid seeing negative depictions of minority groups, then it’s important to find ways to buffer ourselves—and our children—against their effects.
The first step is to recognize negative stereotypes in the media when you see them, label them as stereotypes, and resist their influence on how you respond to the group. There is some evidence that actively challenging stereotypic responses when they occur is an important tool in combating our explicit and implicit prejudices.
Moreover, you can deliberately expose yourself to more diverse representations of other groups.
Studies have found that people who have had more social interaction with minority group members are less likely to be affected by negative media depictions of these groups. This may be explained by the fact that they have more varied representations of what members of this groups are like, and therefore do not allow a single, negative representation to shape how they treat people from that group. Even if you are not able to do this by directly interacting with minority group members, you can consume media with counter-stereotypical depictions of these groups. Doing this repeatedly over time may reduce the extent to which you rely on stereotypes to shape your attitudes and behavior toward these groups, similarly to the way direct social interaction does.
We can use these same strategies with our children in order to minimize the negative impact of stereotypes. First, we need to explain to our children what stereotypes are and why they are harmful. When you consume media with your child, you can point out stereotypes when you see them and explain to your child why that stereotype is not representative of the group. You should also encourage your child to consume media with counter-stereotypic examples of out-group members and positive interactions between members of diverse groups.
While some news coverage during and after hurricane Katrina activated and reinforced stereotypes, much of it had the opposite effect, raising awareness about racial inequality. For example, several articles discussed how race influenced the response of the US government and the media to this horrible tragedy. This hopefully created greater awareness of racial inequality and issues facing the black community for those that read these articles.
Although stereotypes are still broadcast to us through media, we can resist their influence when we acknowledge that they exist and that they are a problem. Moreover, we can use media as a tool to come into contact with different social groups that we may otherwise not have contact with and to learn about their experiences. In doing so, we may reduce our prejudices and foster more egalitarian attitudes in ourselves and our children.
|3 Behaviors That Could Wreak Havoc On Your Life
||So, stop doing that! Let me ask you a question: Are you trying to wreck your own life? I’m asking because it seems like the only possible explanation for some of the batshit crazy stuff we choose to do. I’m not pointing fingers. Think of … ...
|8 Triangulating Tactics of the Pathological Liar
||Do you know someone who engages in telling multiple lies, even when you or someone else has caught them? Do you know someone who seems to manipulate others with his … ...
|The Psychotherapy 2.0 Online Summit
||The host of the free Psychotherapy 2.0 online training summit, Diane Poole Heller, PhD, notes: “We’ve brought together some of the most respected names in the field—visionaries such as Dr. Bessel … ...
|Using light to image and potentially to treat PTSD
||After years of studying the effects of near-infrared light on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries, a team of bioengineers has published research that could result in an effective, long-term treatment for brain disorders.
|Scientists reverse alcohol dependence in animal models
||The more a person drinks, the more they reinforce activation in the neuronal "circuit," which then drives further alcohol use and addiction. It's as if the brain carves a special path between alcohol and reward. Now researchers report that there may be a way to switch off the urge for compulsive drinking, based on a new study in animal models.
|3 Ways Birth Order Can Influence Who You Are
||Does it make a difference if you're the oldest, youngest, or middle child? Research suggests that it can — and in ways you may not even realize.