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Propranolol reduces implicit negative racial bias.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Implicit negative attitudes towards other races are important in certain kinds of prejudicial social behaviour. Emotional mechanisms are thought to be involved in mediating implicit "outgroup" bias but there is little evidence concerning the underlying neurobiology. The aim of the present study was to examine the role of noradrenergic mechanisms in the generation of implicit racial attitudes.

METHODS

Healthy volunteers (n = 36) of white ethnic origin, received a single oral dose of the β-adrenoceptor antagonist, propranolol (40 mg), in a randomised, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled, design. Participants completed an explicit measure of prejudice and the racial implicit association test (IAT), 1-2 h after propranolol administration.

RESULTS

Relative to placebo, propranolol significantly lowered heart rate and abolished implicit racial bias, without affecting the measure of explicit racial prejudice. Propranolol did not affect subjective mood.

CONCLUSIONS

Our results indicate that β-adrenoceptors play a role in the expression of implicit racial attitudes suggesting that noradrenaline-related emotional mechanisms may mediate negative racial bias. Our findings may also have practical importance given that propranolol is a widely used drug. However, further studies will be needed to examine whether a similar effect can be demonstrated in the course of clinical treatment.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, UK. sylvia.terbeck@psy.ox.ac.uk

    , , , ,

    Source

    Psychopharmacology 222:3 2012 Aug pg 419-24

    MeSH

    Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
    Double-Blind Method
    European Continental Ancestry Group
    Female
    Heart Rate
    Humans
    Male
    Prejudice
    Propranolol
    Social Behavior

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Randomized Controlled Trial
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    22371301

    Citation

    Terbeck, Sylvia, et al. "Propranolol Reduces Implicit Negative Racial Bias." Psychopharmacology, vol. 222, no. 3, 2012, pp. 419-24.
    Terbeck S, Kahane G, McTavish S, et al. Propranolol reduces implicit negative racial bias. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012;222(3):419-24.
    Terbeck, S., Kahane, G., McTavish, S., Savulescu, J., Cowen, P. J., & Hewstone, M. (2012). Propranolol reduces implicit negative racial bias. Psychopharmacology, 222(3), pp. 419-24. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2657-5.
    Terbeck S, et al. Propranolol Reduces Implicit Negative Racial Bias. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012;222(3):419-24. PubMed PMID: 22371301.
    * Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
    TY - JOUR T1 - Propranolol reduces implicit negative racial bias. AU - Terbeck,Sylvia, AU - Kahane,Guy, AU - McTavish,Sarah, AU - Savulescu,Julian, AU - Cowen,Philip J, AU - Hewstone,Miles, Y1 - 2012/02/28/ PY - 2011/12/03/received PY - 2012/02/01/accepted PY - 2012/2/29/entrez PY - 2012/3/1/pubmed PY - 2012/12/10/medline SP - 419 EP - 24 JF - Psychopharmacology JO - Psychopharmacology (Berl.) VL - 222 IS - 3 N2 - BACKGROUND: Implicit negative attitudes towards other races are important in certain kinds of prejudicial social behaviour. Emotional mechanisms are thought to be involved in mediating implicit "outgroup" bias but there is little evidence concerning the underlying neurobiology. The aim of the present study was to examine the role of noradrenergic mechanisms in the generation of implicit racial attitudes. METHODS: Healthy volunteers (n = 36) of white ethnic origin, received a single oral dose of the β-adrenoceptor antagonist, propranolol (40 mg), in a randomised, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled, design. Participants completed an explicit measure of prejudice and the racial implicit association test (IAT), 1-2 h after propranolol administration. RESULTS: Relative to placebo, propranolol significantly lowered heart rate and abolished implicit racial bias, without affecting the measure of explicit racial prejudice. Propranolol did not affect subjective mood. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that β-adrenoceptors play a role in the expression of implicit racial attitudes suggesting that noradrenaline-related emotional mechanisms may mediate negative racial bias. Our findings may also have practical importance given that propranolol is a widely used drug. However, further studies will be needed to examine whether a similar effect can be demonstrated in the course of clinical treatment. SN - 1432-2072 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/22371301/full_citation/Propranolol_reduces_implicit_negative_racial_bias_ L2 - https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-012-2657-5 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -