Scientists from Royal Holloway University have found that when white Caucasians are under the illusion that they have a dark skin, their racial bias changes in a positive way.
In the study that was funded by the European Research Council and published today in Cognition, the team used the tried and tested Rubber Hand Illusion, where participants are asked to look at a fake hand being touched, while at the same time, the experimenter touches the participants’ own hand which is hidden out of view.
The combination of seeing the touch on the rubber hand and feeing touch on your hand, creates the illusion that the fake hand is now part of your body and has replaced your own hand.
The team was keen to take this method one step further by testing whether people can experience a hand of a different skin colour and whether this would change possible racial biases.
Using Caucasian participants, the scientists tested their implicit attitudes towards people with dark skin before using a dark-skinned rubber hand to make them feel as if this was their own hand. They then tested their racial attitudes again after the experiment.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education