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Putting Yourself in the Skin of In- or Out-Group Members: No Effect of Implicit Biases on Egocentric Mental Transformation


Saetta, Gianluca; Brugger, Peter; Schrohe, Hannah; Lenggenhager, Bigna (2019). Putting Yourself in the Skin of In- or Out-Group Members: No Effect of Implicit Biases on Egocentric Mental Transformation. Frontiers in Psychology, 10:1338.

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that visual encoding of ethnicity of in-group/out-group members might influence empathy and sensorimotor sharing. Here, we investigated whether mental perspective taking, presumably a precursor of empathy, is also influenced by in-group/out-group perception and the implicit attitudes toward it. We used an embodied egocentric visual-perspective taking task, the full body rotation task (FBR), in which participants were asked to mentally rotate themselves into the position of dark- or light-skinned bodies. FBR was contrasted to a pure sensorimotor task, the hand laterality task (HLT), in which participants were asked to mentally rotate their hand to the posture of seen light- or dark-skinned hands, which does not require mental simulation of another person's perspective. We expected the FBR but not the HLT to be influenced by the skin color of the stimuli and by the individual implicit biases toward out-group members. Contrary to this hypothesis, we found that neither skin color nor implicit biases modulated reaction times (RTs) in either task. The data thus suggest that unlike other empathy tasks, skin color does not influence visuospatial perspective taking.

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that visual encoding of ethnicity of in-group/out-group members might influence empathy and sensorimotor sharing. Here, we investigated whether mental perspective taking, presumably a precursor of empathy, is also influenced by in-group/out-group perception and the implicit attitudes toward it. We used an embodied egocentric visual-perspective taking task, the full body rotation task (FBR), in which participants were asked to mentally rotate themselves into the position of dark- or light-skinned bodies. FBR was contrasted to a pure sensorimotor task, the hand laterality task (HLT), in which participants were asked to mentally rotate their hand to the posture of seen light- or dark-skinned hands, which does not require mental simulation of another person's perspective. We expected the FBR but not the HLT to be influenced by the skin color of the stimuli and by the individual implicit biases toward out-group members. Contrary to this hypothesis, we found that neither skin color nor implicit biases modulated reaction times (RTs) in either task. The data thus suggest that unlike other empathy tasks, skin color does not influence visuospatial perspective taking.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:31 Oct 2019 08:31
Last Modified:16 Jan 2020 14:08
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01338
PubMed ID:31297073

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