The world is beautiful because it is so different. You can meet new unique people all the time and it’s so fascinating! However, when you’re speaking with someone who comes from a different socioeconomic background you have to think about your communication more. Now scientists from UCL and Yale University found that human brain responds differently when we talk to a person of a different socioeconomic background.
Previous research suggested that frontal lobe systems play a role in detecting bias and helping us to regulate our behaviour to avoid confrontation and bias expression. Scientists wanted to see if that is the case so they gathered 39 pairs of people to have a conversation with each other while wearing headsets that record brain activity. Participants in this study had all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds like it actually happens in real life situations. Scientists found that when two people from very different socioeconomic backgrounds were conversing, their left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was much more active.
The left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a part of the frontal lobe, which confirms the findings of the previous research. The increase in activity in that area was observed in both participants – the one that came from the higher socioeconomic strata and the one who was comparatively disadvantaged. Scientists are happy about this achievement – this is the first time the neural mechanisms involved in social interactions between people of different backgrounds have been identified so clearly.
Professor Joy Hirsch, one of the authors of the study, said: “I believe our findings offer a hopeful message. We know that humans can have positive social encounters with others who are different. Now we have the neurobiological basis – our brains have apparently developed a frontal lobe system that helps us deal with diversity.”
Scientists were actually pretty happy about the methods used as well, because previously participants had to lay down still in MRI machines, which made it very difficult to have a natural conversation. This time they were just wearing special headsets that did not restrict the movement and did not cause too much discomfort for the participants. Each conversation lasted for 12 minutes, subjects were relatively personal, but scientists assigned them. Interestingly, those people who talked with someone from a completely different socioeconomic strata felt much more anxious.
In your normal life you are going to meet all kinds of people and it is important that you treat them equally. Your brain knows that and is trying to adjust to avoid explicit biases. However, on your end you should try to be more relaxed and not pay attention to the differences that simply do not matter in the discussed topic.