Individual Factors Associated with Anxiety-Induced Stereotype-Specific Deficits in Cognitive Control

Janet Lagunez-Garcia, “Individual Factors Associated with Anxiety-Induced Stereotype-Specific Deficits in Cognitive Control”
Mentors: Christine Larson & Richard Ward, Psychology

Implicit racial bias encompasses the attitudes one has about specific groups that occur outside of their own conscious awareness. Current theories propose that cognitive control may help regulate implicit racial bias. In addition, others have found that one’s external and internal motivation to respond without prejudice can affect implicit racial bias. Given that anxiety has been shown to disrupt cognitive control, the current study aimed to investigate how an anxious state impacts cognitive control and implicit racial bias. Using a Go/NoGo paradigm consisting of Black or White face primes paired with stereotype consistent or inconsistent words, we examined one’s ability to engage in cognitive control on specific race-congruent trials. We recorded electroencephalography (EEG) as participants completed this task to examine the N2 event-related potential (ERP). Participants were separated into a threat group where they would receive shocks, or a safe group where they didn’t. In addition, participants completed the Internal and External Motivation to Respond Without Prejudice questionnaire to determine individual external (EMS) motivation to respond without prejudice. First, we conducted a 2 (Safe vs Threat) x 2 (Go vs NoGo trials) ANOVA to demonstrate a NoGo N2 ERP effect. Next, we conducted a 2 (Safe vs Threat) x 2 (Stereotype Consistent vs Stereotype Inconsistent) x 2 (Black vs White Face) ANOVA to examine specific condition differences. Results yielded null main effects and interactions. However, Pearson’s r correlational analyses for EMS found that individuals with greater EMS showed an enhanced N2 on trials containing Black faces with Inconsistent Stereotypes in the Threat group. We identified individual differences in EMS that may interact with factors involved with the regulation of implicit racial bias. This work adds to a growing body of literature demonstrating how external pressures to respond in a non-prejudiced manner influence implicit racial bias and cognitive control.

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  1. I applaud you Janet for conducting research on implicit racial bias. You did a good job in identifying how certain factors and association with race can influence our opinions and emotions. I would have like to have met you in person to hear more of your processes and thoughts. Racial influences, values, perceptiveness, thoughts, and beliefs is plays a large factor in how society and people interact with each other.

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