Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Weird Skin Color Illusion Can Reduce Racism


Here's a novel way to reduce racism: Convince people their skin is darker than it really is.

No need to break out the tanning booth. A new study finds that an illusion that makes people feel that a rubber hand is their own can make white people less unconsciously biased against people with dark skin.

"It comes down to a perceived similarity between white and dark skin," study researcher Lara Maister, a psychologist at Royal Holloway University of London, said in a statement. "The illusion creates an overlap, which in turn helps to reduce negative attitudes because participants see less difference between themselves and those with dark skin." 

The rubber hand illusion is a classic psychology experiment in which a participant sits at a table with his or her hand obscured by a screen. A rubber hand is placed parallel to the person's own hand, where the participant can see it. By stroking or touching the fake hand and the person's real hand at the same time, a psychologist can make the participant feel like the hand is part of their body. [10 Things That Make Humans Special]

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