Social diversity attenuates racism

An interesting article published in 2005 showed that people develop a fear response to people they perceive as different (us versus them). This is the same fear response in the amygdala of the brain that most of us experience when we see scary movies or strange insects. This response may have evolutionary or social learning origins. An attractive evolutionary origin hypothesis would be that this helped protect us from neighboring competing tribes. Interestingly, this response is learned, so can be conditioned. That is, we can change the definition of ‘us versus them’ to control the response. This is supported by the authors’ findings that interracial dating significantly reduced this fear response in their test subjects. This suggests to me that diversity of people in our social surrounding should significantly reduce the fear response and this should correspond to reduced racism. So, increased social diversity and corresponding reduction in racist attitudes may be one very positive effect of globalization.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Social diversity attenuates racism

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