By Shara Yurkiewicz
The participants were then asked to rate the amount of pain the model felt, as well as their own level of discomfort while watching the jabs.
Race had no effect on the survey responses by either Chinese or Caucasian observers. But the same was not true in their brains.
While participants watched the videos, researchers used functional MRI to scan what was going on inside their heads. The scans revealed increased activation in the brain regions that mediate the empathic neural response. But when the painful simulations were applied to subjects who shared a race with observers, the neural responses increased significantly more than when the ones being stuck with needles were of the other racial group.
The findings suggest that bias against those from other groups may exist at a fundamental level in the human mind, despite what self-reports reveal.