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Title: Neural underpinnings of dynamic in-groups and out-groups based on ethnicity and culture in multicultural societies
Authors: Raghunath, Bindiya Lakshmi
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Sociology
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Raghunath, B. L. (2019). Neural underpinnings of dynamic in-groups and out-groups based on ethnicity and culture in multicultural societies. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Integration between various ethnic groups is characteristic of multiculturalism. Beyond ethnicity, the social perception of others as either in-group or out-group is influenced by multilevel factors; one such factor is the interaction of ethnic groups in daily life. A common culture can be developed with strong exposure and personal contact among ethnic groups. Taking advantage of Singapore’s highly integrated multicultural society, it is postulated that identifying with a common shared culture may drive an automatic and spontaneous sense of membership to a multi-ethnic group. Thus there would be an enlarged cultural in-group in addition to the ethnic in-groups and out-groups. There is a lack of understanding of affective and cognitive processes that influence the neural responses underlying the perception of others as members of in-groups and out-groups in multicultural societies. This study investigated neural reactivity and responsiveness to ethnic in-group (IF) and out-group faces (OF), and the modulatory effect of the environmental context in which one lives: ethnic-related contexts (ethnic monuments) versus cultural-related contexts (Singapore’s well-known monuments); and also how the individuals’ perception and attitudes, modulated by positive endorsement and promotion of multi-ethnic integration, can influence their cerebral responses. A total of 48 Chinese Singaporean participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing images of in-group Chinese faces and OF (Indian, Arabic, and Caucasian faces), primed with either cultural context or their relevant ethnical context. Greater sensitivity to contextual primes for typical ethnicities (Chinese and Indian faces) present in Singapore, compared to non-typical ethnicities (Caucasian and Arabic faces) was found. Cultural context enhanced engagement of brain regions implicated in higher visual processing and social cognition; mainly the visual association area, mirror neuron networks, lingual gyrus, and temporoparietal networks, in order to make individuating judgments of people rather than superficial judgments based on group membership. Enhanced visual processing, mentalizing networks, and social perception networks were active for out-group face processing in the ethnic context, indicating more effort in perceiving out-groups faces instead of showing typical out-group neural responses. Finally there was no difference in neural responses to out-group and in-group faces in the cultural context, which was otherwise present in the ethnic context. This suggests that out-groups were treated like in-groups when a common shared culture was primed; enlarged cultural in-group. These findings verify that common shared culture, more than ethnicity, drives an automatic and spontaneous sense of membership to a multi-ethnic group when cross-cultural interaction is enhanced. These finding suggest a possible emergent phenomenon in multicultural societies, the development of a new way to categorize yourself and others, in terms of membership, which stands between the classical ethnic in- and out-group categorization. Findings also imply that successful efforts to enforce intergroup interaction have important effects that are reflected at a neural level beyond the mere exposure effect.
DOI: 10.32657/10220/48537
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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