Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep

Xiaoqing Hu, James W. Antony, Jessica D. Creery, Iliana M. Vargas, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Ken A. Paller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although people may endorse egalitarianism and tolerance, social biases can remain operative and drive harmful actions in an unconscious manner. Here, we investigated training to reduce implicit racial and gender bias. Forty participants processed counterstereotype information paired with one sound for each type of bias. Biases were reduced immediately after training. During subsequent slow-wave sleep, one sound was unobtrusively presented to each participant, repeatedly, to reactivate one type of training. Corresponding bias reductions were fortified in comparison with the social bias not externally reactivated during sleep. This advantage remained 1 week later, the magnitude of which was associated with time in slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement sleep after training. We conclude that memory reactivation during sleep enhances counterstereotype training and that maintaining a bias reduction is sleep-dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1015
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume348
Issue number6238
DOIs
StatePublished - May 29 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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