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Commentary: Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep

Aczel, Balazs ; Palfi, Bence ; Szaszi, Barnabas ; Szollosi, Aba ; Dienes, Zoltan

Frontiers in Psychology, 2015, Vol.6 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Commentary: Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep
  • Author/Creator: Aczel, Balazs ; Palfi, Bence ; Szaszi, Barnabas ; Szollosi, Aba ; Dienes, Zoltan
  • Subjects: Psychology ; Social Biases ; Iat ; Sleep ; Memory Reactivation ; System-Level Consolidation Process
  • Is Part Of: Frontiers in Psychology, 2015, Vol.6
  • Description: Without question, reducing social biases is one of the main aims and challenges of modern societies. Implicit biases have been shown to be robust findings in social psychology, popularly measured by the IAT. Recently, Hu et al. (2015) developed a training to counter these biases relying on the system-level consolidation process, in which repeated reactivation of information during sleep is aimed to improve post-sleep memory performance. As a baseline test, participants (N = 40) completed two social bias IATs where the face-word assignments were either consistent or inconsistent with the typical bias. In their counter-bias training counter-gender and counter-racial bias trials were paired with different sound cues. All participants took part in a nap session where one of the sound cues was repeatedly presented as they entered slow-wave sleep (SWS). 10 min and 1 week after their nap, the participants completed more IATs to test the endurance of the training for cued and uncued biases. Based on their results, Hu et al. (2015) claimed that (1) implicit social biases were reduced by the counter-stereotypic training; (2) this bias reduction was fortified by memory reactivation during sleep; and (3) the long-term effect of the training is sleep-dependent, as the reduction remained only for the social bias being cued during sleep.
  • Identifier: E-ISSN: 1664-1078 ; DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01428 ; PMCID: 4585284