Racism is ‘hardwired’ into the human brain – and people can be prejudiced without knowing it
Rob Waugh, Daily Mail, June 26, 2012
Racism is hardwired into the brain, say scientists – and it operates unconsciously.
The same circuits in the brain that allow us to see which ethnic group a person belongs to overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.
The result is that even right-thinking individuals make unconscious decisions based on a person’s race. But most racism operates on an unconscious level, say researchers – and even ‘right thinking’ individuals may react in a racist way.
Brain scans have proved that interactions with people of other ethnic backgrounds set off reactions that may be completely unknown to our conscious selves.
The finding may force researchers to think about racism in entirely new ways.
It’s possible, the researchers say, that even right-thinking, ‘egalitarian’ people could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.
The chemicals involved in perceiving ethnic backgrounds overlap with those for processing emotion and making decisions, according to new research.
And the findings published in Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.
“So-called racism [sic] is a perfectly natural in-group bias which has been stigmatized by the politically correct West.” – Martin Sewell, professor of economics, Oxford University