Research: Measuring Brain Wave Activity and its Correlation to Racial Bias in Adolescents
Awards: 3rd Place Behavioral Science Award, Somers Science Fair 2022
Mentor: Charlotte Kleiman
Research Location: Bates College
Implicit bias refers to connections formed involuntarily by individuals, indicating that the individual is unaware of their prejudiced association. Racial bias is an example of an unconscious bias that affects people today. Racial prejudice refers to unconscious opinions or preconceptions that influence an individual’s understanding of another racial out-group. Racial prejudices arise in areas of the brain that interfere with a person's brain wave activity. In prior research by Ronquillo et al. (2007), researchers analyzed people from two racial backgrounds using explicit bias tests. Participants were then placed under a fMRI scanner to examine evidence of racial prejudice in the amygdala while looking at photos of a racial in-group and a racial out-group. Our study, on the other hand, will examine the brain wave activity of numerous young individuals from four distinct racial origins. Brain wave activity will be measured using the Muse electroencephalogram. It is predicted that when individuals are given images of races other than their own, they would exhibit increased brainwave activity. Subtle variances in brain waves will show whether their reactions are positive or negative. This is significant because it demonstrates racial prejudice in teenagers, showing how it affects their behavior toward a racial group different from their own. These findings may aid to prevent racial prejudice in adolescents.