Rehumanizing the homeless: Altered BOLD response following contact with an extreme outgroup

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Peter A. KirkLasana T. Harris


Dehumanized perception strips people of their humanity by ignoring their mental states. Evidence has accumulated to suggest many individuals do not spontaneously attribute mental states towards certain social groups, such as the homeless, and drug-addicted (Fiske et al., 2002, Harris & Fiske, 2006; 2007; 2011). These groups tend to elicit differential BOLD signal within areas associated with social cognition. To investigate the versatility of this response, two experiments were conducted: a mixed design study (20 participants); and a repeated-measures design (11 participants). These investigated the malleability of social cognition following a contact intervention with the homeless. Both experiments had participants make emotional judgements toward eight different social groups whilst under fMRI. The two studies found mixed evidence, demonstrating altered response to homeless people in regions such as the mPFC, Insula, IPL, and MTG following social contact. This lends some support to the use of contact as an effective intervention.

Related Concepts

Homeless Persons
Research Design
Structure of Middle Temporal Gyrus
Abnormal Mental State

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