Whether or not anybody actually has intent to be racist, we still see instances of racism and discrimination everywhere in the world, and it's probably more frequent than anybody would like to admit.
Ironically, a recent study shows a certain heart medication known as propranolol may reduce feelings of racism. Propranolol is typically given to patients suffering from heart disease as it works to control the heart rate.
The study included volunteers, all of whom were white, who were split into two groups of 18. One group was given a placebo while the other was given a dose of propranolol. A few hours later both groups were given a racial implicit association test, or IAT.
The test required each participant to associate negative and positive words with pictures of individuals both black and white.
Researchers noticed a significant time difference in the matching up of words with pictures between the placebo group and the propranolol group.
Volunteers in the placebo group took more time to match up a positive word with a picture of a black person than to match a positive word with a picture of a white person. However, that time difference was non-existent in the propranolol group.
A possible explanation comes from Dr. Sylvia Terbeck, a psychologist from Oxford University, who says “Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias.”
Racism is thought to be rooted in fear, which supports researchers claim on the drug’s affect on subconscious racism since propranolol also acts on the parts of the brain which elicit fear and other emotional responses.
To compare the affect of the drug on explicit racism, the volunteers were also asked to rate their feelings towards a variety of races and religions on a scale of one to ten. Responses did not differ between the placebo and propranolol groups.
Of course the most controversial part of these results is the matter of whether or not drugs should be used to decrease or eliminate racial biases.
Professor Julian Savulescu, co-author of the study, says that “Such research raises the tantalizing possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis.”
Savulescu also points out that “Biological research aiming to make people morally better has a dark history” and that before we jump to any conclusions about curing racism, “we at least need to better understand what these effects are.”
If you are interested in learning more about this study perhaps talking to a doctor is the best. Find a doctor.Sources
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