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A mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias

Bedder, RL; Bush, D; Banakou, D; Peck, T; Slater, M; Burgess, N; (2019) A mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias. Cognition , 184 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.11.010. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Implicit social biases play a critical role in shaping our attitudes towards other people. Such biases are thought to arise, in part, from a comparison between features of one's own self-image and those of another agent, a process known as 'bodily resonance'. Recent data have demonstrated that implicit bias can be remarkably plastic, being modulated by brief immersive virtual reality experiences that place participants in a virtual body with features of an out-group member. Here, we provide a mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias in terms of a putative self-image network that encodes associations between different features of an agent. When subsequently perceiving another agent, the output of this self-image network is proportional to the overlap between their respective features, providing an index of bodily resonance. By combining the self-image network with a drift diffusion model of decision making, we simulate performance on the implicit association test (IAT) and show that the model captures the ubiquitous implicit bias towards in-group members. We subsequently demonstrate that this implicit bias can be modulated by a simulated illusory body ownership experience, consistent with empirical data; and that the magnitude and plasticity of implicit bias correlates with self-esteem. Hence, we provide a simple mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias which could contribute to the development of interventions for reducing the negative evaluation of social out-groups.

Type: Article
Title: A mechanistic account of bodily resonance and implicit bias
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.11.010
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.11.010
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/).
Keywords: Embodiment, Implicit association test, Implicit bias, Neural network model, Self-image, Virtual reality
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064713
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