Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Xenophobia, For Men Only

Date:
February 5, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We have an evolved mental readiness to be fearful of certain things in our world. It's known that people are more fearful of "out-groups" -- people who are different from them. A new study reveals that volunteers' most persistent fears were reserved for men -- that is, male members of the out-group. So white men and women feared black men, and black men and women feared white men; all the other lab-induced fears diminished.

Very few people fear dandelions. Or even dangerous things - like Hummers. We may object to outsized automobiles on principle, but the mere sight of them doesn't make us tremble and sweat and run away. On the other hand, even toddlers show an automatic and powerful fear of snakes, including harmless ones.

That's because of eons of evolution among both dangerous and benign things. There is probably no snake phobia programmed into our genetic code, but we do have an evolved mental readiness to be fearful of certain things in our world. Does this cognitive readiness influence our relationships with other people? Psychologists have been studying this question, and the preliminary answer is yes. In a new study, Michigan State psychologist Carlos David Navarrete used mild shocks to make black and white men and women fearful other black and white men and women. That is, white men were conditioned to be fearful of black men and white men as well as black women and white women, and so forth with the others. Then Navarrete observed to see if these fears lasted or not.

The findings, reported in Psychological Science, were intriguing and unexpected. It's known that people are more fearful of "out-groups" - that is, people who are different from them, and this fear of "the other" has been clearly demonstrated with race. But Navarrete found that volunteers' most persistent fears were reserved for men - that is, male members of the out-group. So white men and women feared black men, and black men and women feared white men; all the other lab-induced fears, including any conditioned fear of women diminished.

Navarrete ran a number of other tests to clarify the results. He tested for blatant racism (Example: "Generally, blacks are not as smart as whites") and for more subtle, unconscious racism. He also gathered histories of the volunteers' interracial contactβ€”friendships, colleagues, romantic involvements. It was only these histories that mattered: Those with close relationships outside their own race had less persistent fears than did those with little interracial experience.

Why would gender influence these ingrained fears as much as race? It may be that men were more often the aggressors over evolutionary time, so that male faces became a potent cue for danger. So xenophobia is not an equal-opportunity emotion.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Navarrete et al. Fear Extinction to an Out-Group Face: The Role of Target Gender. Psychological Science, 2009; 20 (2): 155 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02273.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Xenophobia, For Men Only." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204121504.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, February 5). Xenophobia, For Men Only. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204121504.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Xenophobia, For Men Only." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204121504.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) — China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins