Take a Test …
How quickly do you think you judge someone by their outward appearance? Is your reaction based on what they are wearing, where or how they are standing, or a particular facial expression? Actually, it is human nature to assess the people with whom we interact, allowing us to instantly read the faces and body language of others. But how often do we recognize how biased our opinions are based on another’s skin color, eye shape, nose structure, and other external characteristics?
There are many online modules that test one’s reaction to rapid visual snapshots of close-up photos depicting individual’s faces (eyes/nose/mouth only). Understanding how positive and negative reactions toward photos that depict various races, genders, and cultures give researchers statistics that shed light on how we form snap judgments of others. According to a recent study by researchers at New York University, “Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived. The researchers focused on the workings of the brain’s amygdala, a structure that is important for humans’ social and emotional behavior. There is now clear evidence that the amygdala processes social cues in the absence of awareness that is more extensive than previously understood.”
Participating in this type of test may provide individuals insight into how they interact toward one another. Recognizing and addressing our biases opens us to engaging in courageous conversations about race and equity in our world.
By Signe Lambertsen