The Neuroscience Behind Interracial Relationship Prejudice

Interview: Carol Barkes on Interracial Relationship Prejudice.

Our negative judgements on interracial relationships can be explored through our knowledge of neuroscience. Though it is very difficult to change one’s opinions once they have been formed over time through their values, there are some strategies that one can employ to minimize conflict.
Some Talking Points from Carol Barkes on 
Interracial Relationship Prejudice:


  • Well over 90% of our thinking is unconsciously driven by our brain which is in the business of rapidly processing huge amounts of information and deciding if we should move towards a reward or away from threat.

  • A significant amount of our brain is dedicated to being social. Consequently, we are regularly assessing people to see if they are our “in group” or our “out group.” People that are like us (look like us, sound like us, have similar birthdays, etc., etc., etc.) become our “in groups” and we go easier on them. This is largely done unconsciously.

  • When someone doesn’t fit into our “in group” or we have formed negative feelings towards them, we tend to be more judgmental. If they do something good or nice, we likely won’t notice it or give them credit. If they do something bad, we will see it as proof of initial negative opinion.

  • Interracial couples often are dealing with the reality that their other half looks may not look like their families “in group.” To the brain, this could be perceived as a possible threat.

  • That being said, it is typically unproductive to try to change someone’s views which are based on values. If someone’s value is that marriage should be within the same ethnicity, it is unlikely that a discussion is going to change their views.

  • Instead, focus on an approach of time, patience, and kindness. Over time, positive experiences with the partner will create positive connections in the relative’s brain and this can ease the tension.

  • It takes two parties to fight, so it is best to agree to disagree and then just continually present in a positive manner. If time does not heal the tension, it may be necessary to create some distance from the negative relatives and find a positive set of friends to fill the gap and share the love.

In general, the best way to catch our judgemental behavior is to be observant of our reactions. We should seek try to find commonalities with people and we should understand that it is not reasonable to hold everyone to our standards.

Available for Interviews: Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes, CPM, is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results. She is also a speaker, educator, and author of the bestselling book: Success Breakthroughs: Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Secrets for Breaking Through to Success.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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