Unconscious bias has become a hot topic recently, with high profile incidents reported around the world. Researchers at Aalto University are exploring the causes of these biases in our neural wiring, and are developing techniques using MRI scanners that let us see the brain making assumptions in real time. The results show for the first time that the brain is not only unconsciously biased towards people based on appearance, but it also forms biases based on what we know about the person as well.
Peoples’ brains are naturally biased towards other people who are the same as them — a behavioural trait scientists call ‘in-group favouritism’. The opposite trait is also true: people are often naturally biased against people who are not the same as them, called ‘out-group derogation’. Mamdooh Afdile — a filmmaker studying for a PhD in neuroscience at Aalto University — decided to use cinema to explore this.