Neural and cognitive/motivational mechanisms underlying the processing of gender stereotype roles
Berry van den Berg1,2, Jolien van Breen1,3, Russell Spears1, Monicque Lorist1,2; 1University of Groningen, 2University Medical Center Groningen, 3University of Exeter
Stereotypes can help us rapidly identify the role of a person, notably when an actor is congruent with the role stereotype. However, encountering stereotypes can be threatening to some (e.g., women exposed to women in socially devalued roles). To gain insights into the underlying cognitive and motivational processes, we measured brain activity (EEG) while presenting female participants images of both female and male actors in neutral, stereotypical and, counter-stereotypical roles. Presentation of a female stereotypical image vs. female counter stereotypes, elicited in female participants a larger fronto-central P3, concurrent with increased fronto-midline Theta power (4-7Hz), followed by decreased posterior Alpha (8-14Hz) power. These effects were smaller/absent when the actors were males. In sum, the results suggest that when confronted with images of actors in a stereotypical role that could be threatening, the brain recruits fronto-central regions important for regulating attention and working memory followed by enhanced image evaluation - even when viewing images passively.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Self perception