Gender and racial bias can be 'unlearnt' during sleep, new study suggests

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Gender and racial bias can be 'unlearnt' during sleep, new study suggests

Post by Guest on Fri May 29, 2015 3:50 pm

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the overlords use “sleep teaching” to condition children to submit to their sinister moral values. Now scientists have found a more noble purpose for the technique in a study that suggests deep-rooted biases about race and gender could be “unlearnt” during a short nap. The findings appear to confirm the idea that sleeping provides a unique window for accessing and altering fundamental beliefs – even prejudices that we don’t know we have. Simply playing auditory cues while people slept partially undid racial and gender bias, the study found, and the effects were still evident at least a week later.

Xiaoqing Hu, who led the study at Northwestern University, said the strength of the results were surprising. “The usual expectation is that a brief, one-time intervention is not strong enough to have a lasting influence,” he said.

Distinct from overt sexism or racism, the study targeted so-called implicit biases, that can shade the way we respond to others. Project Implicit, a long-running online project by Harvard psychologists, has shown that 80% of people have a bias against the elderly, for instance, and that people often have a preference for white faces over black faces. Other research has revealed that these biases can have consequences – when playing a video game with instructions to shoot only people carrying weapons, players are more likely to shoot unarmed black targets. Another study showed that professors writing recommendation letters were more likely to introduce an element of doubt about junior female researchers than male ones - potentially skewing their chances of employment.


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Re: Gender and racial bias can be 'unlearnt' during sleep, new study suggests

Post by @lex on Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:02 pm

Sounds like a really interesting and worthwhile line of research.

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