Hormones and emotions

Chair(s): Bastian Schiller (Freiburg), Grit Hein (Würzburg)

Presenter(s): Bastian Schiller (Freiburg), Yuqing Zhou (Peking, China), Susanne Quadflieg (Bristol, UK), Kyle Nash (Alberta, Canada), Grit Hein (Würzburg)

The past decade has been characterized by increasing polarization which recently has sparked global protests in the course of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. One major symptom of this societal polarization is the consolidation of prejudices and stereotypes against individuals from different social groups, and resulting intergroup conflicts with detrimental effects. Reflecting the urgency of the problem, there is an increasing amount of psychological and neuroscience research that strives to uncover the mechanisms that drive societal polarization and to develop approaches that counteract them. Our symposium brings together scientists from four countries (Canada, China, UK) and five different universities (Alberta, Peking, Bristol, Freiburg, Würzburg) that investigate different aspects of societal polarization related to intergroup processes. In more detail, our symposium provides insights into the neuroendocrinological basis of intergroup conflict (Bastian Schiller), elucidates how neural activities involved in racial categorization affects racial biases in face perception and altruistic decisions (Yuqing Zhou, junior scientist), and discusses cognitive biases and stereotypes in the context of vicarious interracial contact (Susanne Quadflieg). Exploring the promises and limits of intergroup contact further, we will discuss whether and how intergroup toleration affects basic neural signatures and attitudes towards minorities (Kyle Nash), and how neural learning from positive outgroup experiences shape prosocial motivation and the outcome of clinical treatments (Grit Hein). Together, the presentations of the invited experts provide insights into the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to societal polarization, show their effect on perception, cognition, and decision-making, and explore approaches that may counteract these effects.