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The reward value of stereotypes: Evaluating the contribution of the neural reward circuitry to the persistence of stereotypes

The reward value of stereotypes: Evaluating the contribution of the neural reward circuitry to the persistence of stereotypes

Objective

Social interactions are guided by stereotypical knowledge about others: Should I turn to a male or female friend for emotional support? Should I be concerned about the foreign-looking person walking behind me? In the past few decades the endeavour to reduce cultural stereotypes has proved to be very difficult and often unsuccessful. The current research program promotes a novel proposal regarding the underlying neurobiological basis of stereotype perseverance: the “rewarding stereotype hypothesis”. In an interdisciplinary integration of models and theories, I suggest that stereotypes and stereotype-consistent information evoke a neural reward response, leading to powerful feedback that reinforces culturally-pervasive stereotypes and their associated behaviors. A battery of experiments encompassing neuroimaging and computational studies utilizing state-of-the-art tools will test the core tenets of the hypothesis. This will be completed by observing the hypothesized mechanism and then by its manipulation. Importantly, the putative sensitivity of stereotypes to rewards suggests that altering the reward scheme for non-stereotypical behaviors can have a strong impact on decisions and behavior. Following initial proof of concept, I suggest several scalable intervention examples to explore the potential implications on educational, institutional and social policies promoting a just society. Effective communication of these efforts holds the potential for a long term improvement of society. Altogether, the current proposal combines the complementary strengths of the researcher and the host to establish the building blocks for a new view of stereotypes, one that suggests that we can render them less pervasive if we consider their underlying reward value.

Coordinator

BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV

Address

.
84105 Beer Sheva

Israel

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 185 464,32

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 838282

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 185 464,32

  • EU contribution

    € 185 464,32

Coordinated by:

BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV

Israel