Presentation on theme: "Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization"— Presentation transcript:
1 Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization Robert Kurzban, John Tooby, and Leda CosmidesPresentation by:Anne-Lise Nilsen and Adam Szymankiewicz
2 IntroBackground:Intergroup conflict depends on categorizing the world into US vs. THEM→ Predisposes humans to discriminate in favor of ingroup and against outgroupBecause of this it is thought that when you meet someone new it activates 3 “primitive” or “primary dimensions”Race, Sex and Age
3 Intro Evolutionary Psychology perspective: According to the EEA… This is not true regarding race… hunter and gatherers would never meet other “races” therefore could not have evolved the cognitive mechanisms that would automate this info.
4 IntroHypothesis: The (apparently) automatic and mandatory encoding of race is instead a byproduct of adaptations that evolved for an alternative function that was a regular part of the lives of our foraging ancestors: detecting coalitions and alliances.
5 Intro Coalitions and Alliances Evolutionarily: Within the bands of hunter and gatherers, there were coalitions and alliances. This is also found within other non-human primates.Neuro-cognitive mechanisms which tracked shifting alliances would have been beneficial to successfully negotiate their social world, therefore could be selected for.
6 Intro Neurocognitive mechanism should be sensitive to: patterns of coordinated action, cooperation and competitioncues that predict- either purposefully or incidentally- each individuals political allegiances*“Because this circuitry detects correspondence between allegiances and appearance, stable dimensions of shared appearance- which may be otherwise, meaningless- emerge in the cognitive system as markers of social categories.”
7 IntroAny readily observable feature- however arbitrary- can acquire social significance and cognitive efficacy when it valididates cues patterns of alliance.example: dress, dialect, manner, gait, family resemblance, ethnic & coalitional badgesBut what about sex, which ancestorially is fixed?
8 Predictions1. Race will not be encoded across all social contexts when manipulated coalitional variables.2. Shared visual appearance is not necessary for coalition encoding. But it can reinforce and stabilize a coalitional categorization.3. Arbitrary cues other than race can be endowed with the same properties that race has previously exhibited by linking to coalitional membership.4. Race encoding will be diminished when:*Race is no longer a valid cue*Alternative cues are present that do reliably predict5. Sex will be encoded stronger than race even when irrelevant6. Encoding of sex will not diminish coalition encoding
9 MethodsSubjects- Undergraduates at the University of California, Santa Barbara- Men to Women: ~50:50- primarily Euro-American and Asian AmericanE1: 55 participantsE2: 52 participantsE3: 55 participantsE4: 57 participantsE5: 51 participantsE6: 52 participants
10 Methods Memory confusion protocol 1) subjects are asked to form impressions of individuals whom they will see engaged in a conversation2) See a sequence of sentences paired with a photo of individual who said it24 sentences, 8.5 sec eachEach sentence paired with a photo of one man3) Surprise recall task - sentences in random order, attributing them to the individual that said itMisattributions reveal encoding - subjects more readily confuse individuals whom they have categorized as members of the same category than those whom they have categorized as members of different categories.
11 Methods Rival coalitions constructed such that race was uncorrelated with coalition membership:- the rival four-person coalitionswere each composed of twoEuropean-American and twoAfrican-American men
12 Methods This design allowed to: E1: replicate the basic phenomenon of racial encodingE2: see whether the tendency to encode race could in fact be reduced by an introduction of a visually accessible cue to a non-racial coalition divisionE3:replicate the basic phenomenon of encoding via sexE4: see whether the tendency to encode sex could be reduced by an introduction of a visual cueE5&6: Replicate the E1 and E2 studies for validity
13 MethodsIf the human brains contains neurocomputational machinery for tracking coalitional alliances , then constructing a new social environment in which coalition is uncorrelated with race should weaken the preexisting weight given to race as a cue to a coalition within that context.If though the prior claims are correct - if race is a prior dimension of person representation, then encoding this new social environment should make no difference.
14 Methods Experiment 1 - no visual cues to coalition membership - all male, same shirts, mixed races- coalition allegiance inferred only from content and sequence of their utterances
15 MethodsExperiment 2- same as E1 only difference: shared appearance to the coalition through verbal allegiance cues (same color of shirts of members of the same coalition)- if prediction 3 is true: coalition will be spontaneously encoded in exp 2 just as strongly - or more so - than race is.
16 MethodsExperiment 3:Run in an identical manner as experiment 1 except sex was used instead of raceNo visual cues of coalition alliance
17 MethodsExperiment 4:Run in an identical manner as experiment 2 except sex was used instead of raceCoalition members wore the same color shirt
18 MethodsExperiments 5 & 6exact replicates of experiment 1 and 2 except for different individuals in the pictures.
19 ResultsExperiment 1Subjects encoded a new dimension: coalition membershipMore within than between coalition errorsEffect of Race twice as large as the effect of coalitionEffect size of coalition = 0.31Effect size of race = 0.67
20 ResultsExperiment 2Effect of Coalition marked by cues of shared appearancesEffect size of coalition = 0.79 (Effect size of race = 0.49Shows that a new and arbitrary coalition can be encoded just as strongly as race is
21 Results Experiment 2 Two questions: when does race ceased to be a predictor of coalitional allegiance within a given social context?Does coalition acquire the robust properties race had & does race lose the strength it once had in a situation when a coalition membership is marked by cues of shared appearances?
22 Results Experiments 3 & 4 When cues to coalition had to be inferred: effect size for coalition= 0.35 (p=0.0045)*comparable to experiment 1When cues were amplified:effect size for coalition= 0.81 (p= 9.6 x 10^-15)*comparable to experiment 2
23 Results: Experiments 3 & 4 But… the extent at which subject categorized targets, sex was very high in experiment 3 and 4*Experiment 3: effect size= 0.91 (p=3.2x10^-22)*Experiment 4: effect size= 0.84 (p=1.1x10^-19)Sex was always encoded more strongly than coalitionEffect sizes for sex were significantly larger than race in analogous conditionssex (ex. 3): 0.91 vs race (ex. 1): 0.67 (p= )sex (ex. 4): 0.84 vs race (ex. 2): 0.49 (p= )t tests give complementary results
24 Results: Experiment 3 & 4Main take away:Categorizing based on sex stays high even when coalitional cues are amplified, but race effects disappear.
25 Results: Experiment 5 & 6Replicated results of experiment 1 and 2 when cues to coalitional alliance were verbal only. (significant race effect)But when cues to coalitional alliance were augmented visually, the size of the race effect dropped substantially from 0.57 to 0.15 (p=0.0073)“In this condition it would appear that the extent to which subject encoded targets by their race was not merely diminished, it was erased.”
28 Conclusions and Discussion - Ethnicity (Race) is an ecologically valid prediction of people’s social alliances- Racial encoding sensitive to coalition manipulation- < 4 min exposure to an environmental coalition (shirt color) decreased the effect of race
29 Limitations - Diversity of participants didn’t match the diversity within the picture
30 Questions - What does our elephant say about that? -Where would mixed raceindividuals fall undercategorizations?