Race Information Influences Cognitive Processes in Brain and Behavior in Black and White Individuals
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Race is a prevailing social category in the United States, and physical cues that indicate race are often used as a heuristic to distinguish in- and out-group members. The salience of race can influence our cognitive processes and contribute to racially-biased behavior. The present dissertation examines the contexts in which race information biases behavior and investigates the underlying cognitive and neurobiological processes that contribute to racially-biased behavior. Furthermore, the present dissertation studies illustrate the importance of implementing diversity in participant samples and experimental stimuli in psychological research. Chapter 1 reviews the importance of race as a social group in the United States, how it can uniquely impact cognitive processes, and highlights gaps in the literature due limited representation in experimental paradigms. Chapter 2 examines how task-irrelevant race information impacts cognitive control and illustrates how representative samples can nuance our understanding of cognitive and neurobiological processes underlying biased behavior. Chapter 3 builds upon the previous chapter by investigating the effects of perceived threat on impulse control to task-irrelevant race information and the representation of race information in the brain. Chapter 4 leverages a large open-access dataset to demonstrate the importance of diverse racial representation in experimental samples and stimuli by demonstrating the effects of race information on a series of cognitive processes in youth. Together, these studies examine the contexts in which race information influences cognition and elucidates the neurobiological processes that contribute to racially-biased behavior. Lastly, Chapter 5 highlights the implications of the current work and discusses the opportunity and responsibility researchers have to improve future psychological research work by implementing diverse and representative experimental designs.
Rubien-Thomas, Estee, "Race Information Influences Cognitive Processes in Brain and Behavior in Black and White Individuals" (2022). Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dissertations. 517.