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December 8, 2016

Low levels of racial prejudice is associated with low stress response

Low levels of racial prejudice is associated with low stress response

A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, the University of California, and the University of Boston suggests that having an egalitarian attitude (i.e. believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities) is good for our health.  

In this study, 78 White-Caucasian individuals were recruited. These participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing their level of racial bias and were then subjected to a stress test. After the test, participants were asked to present in front of two White interviewers or two Black interviewers. Furthermore, before undergoing the stress test, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that measured their appraisal of the situation. Following the stress test, interviewers rated each participant’s anxiety level.

Throughout the study, the anabolic balance, that is, the ratio between anabolic hormones (building large molecules from smaller molecules) and catabolic hormones (destroying big molecules into smaller molecules) was measured. The anabolic balance acts as an indicator of the nature of the stress response; the higher the anabolic balance, the healthier the stress response. On the contrary, the lower the anabolic balance, the more harmful the stress response.

Results show that the lower one’s racial bias, the better and healthier their stress response. That is, following a stressful experience in the presence of Black interviewers, the individual who had a lower racial bias showed a higher anabolic balance and so a healthier stress response than the individual who had a higher racial bias. Furthermore, when one showed a lower racial bias, he/she appraised the situation as less stressful than when one showed a higher racial bias. It was further showed that the lower was one’s racial bias, the less anxious they seemed to appear to the Black interviewers. Although there are many reasons to hold a low racial bias, it seems that possessing such is beneficial for one’s stress response. In North America’s multicultural, it is therefore beneficial for one’s health to possess less racial prejudice.  


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