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Racial Bias in Perception of Men’s Size and Threat, and Other News

Blurred people walking outsidePeople may perceive black men as larger and more threatening than white men of a similar size, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Because research has shown police officers are often more likely to use force on black men then white men, the study’s authors theorize that stereotypes about size and level of threat may affect disproportionate use of force.

Numerous studies have shown police more readily use force on black individuals than white individuals, and police are more likely to give citations to black motorists than white ones. This study suggests unconscious racial biases that black men are dangerous might explain these discrepancies.

The study involved displaying photos of black and white men to more than 950 online participants. The men in the photos were all equal in both weight and height. Researchers then asked participants to estimate the weight, height, strength, and muscularity of the photo subjects. Participants consistently ranked black men as larger, stronger, and more threatening than white men. They saw black men as more capable of harm, and they viewed police shootings of black men as more justifiable.

Even black men displayed this unconscious bias, though they were less likely to rate other black men as more capable of harm or more deserving of police force. The study’s authors call for further research into how these unconscious biases play a role in use of police force.

Media Multitasking Linked to Distractibility Among Youth

Teens and young adults who used several media simultaneously had more trouble completing attention-based tasks in a lab setting. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of participants’ brains also revealed high levels of activity in their frontal lobe. This can be a sign of excessive brain strain.

M&S is Launching Cafes Where People Can Chat About Mental Health

Marks and Spencer, a major British retailer, has partnered with the mental health awareness campaigner Ruby Wax to offer the Frazzled Cafe. The program offers after-hours sessions at local cafes, where stressed people can discuss their emotions and receive support for any mental health concerns. The program does not offer therapy, but can be a supplement to treatment or a source of support for people struggling with everyday stress.

Employers Look for Mental Health Treatment Solutions

The U.S. spends more money on mental health treatment than on treatment for any other medical condition. Worker productivity and employer success in the workplace decrease when workers experience mental health issues, yet just 52% of employers say expanding mental health care is a top priority.

Depression, Anxiety, PTSD: The Mental Impact of Climate Change

Climate change raises concerns about physical safety and financial stability. People who live through natural disasters attributed to climate change—such as floods, hurricanes, and large storms—may find it difficult to put their lives back together. Some may develop depression, anxiety, phobias, or posttraumatic stress (PTSD).

Columbia and Harvard Researchers Find Yoga and Controlled Breathing Reduce Depressive Symptoms

People with depression saw significant symptom reduction after completing a 12-week program that included yoga classes and coherent breathing. More yoga equated to more symptom relief. People who took three weekly yoga classes reported better mental health than those who took two weekly classes.

The Law’s Emotion Problem

Much of the criminal legal system centers on the ability to accurately read emotion to determine whether a witness is lying, whether a defendant is remorseful, or how a victim has been affected. It turns out people are remarkably inept at reading emotion. A famous “mind in the eyes” study reports that people select the correct emotion 70% of the time when given a photo of eyes and a list of emotion words. However, when the list of words is removed—a condition similar to that which might be found in a court room—accuracy drops to 7%. This suggests jurors and judges might not accurately read emotion, potentially undermining their ability to detect remorse as well as other emotions the legal system prioritizes.

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  • rusty

    March 20th, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    When there is a lack of productivity on the job due to poor mental health, then why on earth is there no more support for mental health care than what we currently have? It baffles me that if this is a leading problem in our country and people lose so many days of work per year due to these problems then wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to invest in making our citizens at least have a path toward overall wellness?

  • Timothy C

    March 21st, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    I would assume that this would be true across the world, if you see someone of a different race and you felt threatened by that would you automatically register that they are larger than what they actually are? I’m just thinking that if there is a fear there then naturally the brain will work to embellish that. The fear doesn’t allow you to see things quite as clearly.

  • Phil

    March 21st, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    This reading on black people, is absolutely ridiculous. Further more, I personally am so sick tired and done with racial (blacks) being treated so bad. They create what they get, just as anyone else. This country and the people who live in it that are constantly speaking or showing anything to do with the poor old black people are not worth a breath they take to be heard.

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