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Effects of the FAST flexibility training and evaluative conditioning on the racial bias reduction

Grant number: 23/06402-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 10, 2023
Effective date (End): September 09, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal Investigator:Júlio César Coelho de Rose
Grantee:Denise Aparecida Passarelli
Supervisor: Bryan Thomas Roche
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Research place: National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUI Maynooth), Ireland  
Associated to the scholarship:21/04105-8 - Investigating the effects of different evaluative conditioning procedures on modifying negative attitudes toward black faces, BP.DR


This project addresses racial prejudice issues and presents an overview of activities proposed for an internship at the National University of Ireland. This proposal is a valuable extension of the beneficiary's doctoral research, which investigates the efficacy of different types of evaluative conditioning procedures in reducing negative attitudes (evaluations) toward black faces. Experiments conducted in Brazil used the Matching-to-sample training procedure as an evaluative conditioning method. Twelve children, who negatively evaluated black faces on a Likert scale pretest, were trained to relate an abstract stimulus with a positive symbol, followed by relating the abstract stimulus with an image of a black face. The children demonstrated the emergence of the derived (logically deduced) relationship between images of black faces and a positive symbol. Before the procedure, white faces were evaluated significantly more positively than black faces on the Likert Scale. After the procedure, there was no significant difference between evaluations of black and white faces (see Mizael et al. 2016). Another procedure that can be used to change evaluations of racial stimuli, and of interest in the current research, is using a conditioning procedure to directly pair the stimulus target of evaluation change (Conditioned Stimulus - CS) with a positive affective stimulus (Unconditioned Stimulus - US). However, there is no consensual evidence of the efficacy of CS-US conditioning for this outcome. This is an extremely basic procedure that is worth investigating fully in an effort to fill knowledge gaps in the literature. Importantly, some studies have in fact indicated potential difficulty of changing already existing strong relationships between stimuli simply through opposing stimulus associations. These findings suggest that matching-to-sample and CS-US conditioning procedures could be potentially ineffective for adults because they have consolidated learning histories. Additionally, some research indicates that racial prejudice is itself related to psychological inflexibility, which can be defined as a slow learning rate in the reorganization of stimulus relations (e.g., for a spider phobic individual to learn that all spiders are not venomous). Thus, a third strategy will also be investigated in this research involving an effort to increase the psychological flexibility of relations involving problematic stimuli such as racial stimuli amongst the research adult participants. Therefore, Experiment 1 aims to investigate the effects of flexibility training in the form of multiple iterations of the Function Acquisition Speed test (FAST) on the reduction of implicit and explicit racial bias. Experiment 2 will employ a simple associative conditioning procedure to attempt to alter the strength of relationship between black faces and negative stimuli. (AU)

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