Event Title

The Effects of State Anxiety on Race Bias and Brain Activity Related to Cognitive Control

Mentor 1

Dr. Christine Larson

Location

Union Wisconsin Room

Start Date

29-4-2016 1:30 PM

End Date

29-4-2016 3:30 PM

Description

Past research has shown that stereotypes must be actively suppressed in order for individuals to respond to stimuli in a non-biased way, a process which requires cognitive control, which is defined as the ability to adapt ones thinking and behavior to a given situation (Bartholow et al., 2006). Research has also indicated that state anxiety may impair cognitive control (Robinson et al., 2013). To test whether state anxiety interferes with the ability to suppress stereotypes, participants performed a task designed to measure race bias while either under the threat of electrical stimulus (a common method for inducing anxiety) or performed the task while safe from threat of shock. Both groups performed an implicit association task measuring race bias while the negative slow wave event-related potential (ERP) component – a “brain wave” shown to be related to cognitive control – was measured. We hypothesized that participants under threat of shock would perform poorly on trials requiring the suppression of race bias compared to participants not under threat of shock. We also predicted that these subjects would show a reduced negative slow wave during these trials, indicating impaired cognitive control, compared to subjects in the control condition. These results – state anxiety impairing cognitive control and the ability to suppress stereotypes – would imply that high stress situations can produce more biased behavior.

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Apr 29th, 1:30 PM Apr 29th, 3:30 PM

The Effects of State Anxiety on Race Bias and Brain Activity Related to Cognitive Control

Union Wisconsin Room

Past research has shown that stereotypes must be actively suppressed in order for individuals to respond to stimuli in a non-biased way, a process which requires cognitive control, which is defined as the ability to adapt ones thinking and behavior to a given situation (Bartholow et al., 2006). Research has also indicated that state anxiety may impair cognitive control (Robinson et al., 2013). To test whether state anxiety interferes with the ability to suppress stereotypes, participants performed a task designed to measure race bias while either under the threat of electrical stimulus (a common method for inducing anxiety) or performed the task while safe from threat of shock. Both groups performed an implicit association task measuring race bias while the negative slow wave event-related potential (ERP) component – a “brain wave” shown to be related to cognitive control – was measured. We hypothesized that participants under threat of shock would perform poorly on trials requiring the suppression of race bias compared to participants not under threat of shock. We also predicted that these subjects would show a reduced negative slow wave during these trials, indicating impaired cognitive control, compared to subjects in the control condition. These results – state anxiety impairing cognitive control and the ability to suppress stereotypes – would imply that high stress situations can produce more biased behavior.