Williams syndrome children: no social fear

Absence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping in Williams syndrome children
Andreia Santos, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg
Current Biology, 20(7), 13 April 2010, Pages R307–R308

Stereotypes — often implicit attributions to an individual based on group membership categories such as race, religion, age, gender, or nationality — are ubiquitous in human interactions.
Even three-year old children clearly prefer their own ethnic group and discriminate against individuals of different ethnicities.
While stereotypes may enable rapid behavioural decisions with incomplete information, such biases can lead to conflicts and discrimination, especially because stereotypes can be implicit and automatic, making an understanding of the origin of stereotypes an important scientific and socio-political topic.

An important process invoked by out-groups is social fear.
A unique opportunity to study the contribution of this mechanism to stereotypes is afforded by individuals with the microdeletion disorder Williams syndrome (WS), in which social fear is absent, leading to an unusually friendly, high approachability behaviour, including towards strangers.

Here we show that children with WS lack racial stereotyping, though they retain gender stereotyping, compared to matched typically developing children.
Our data indicate that mechanisms for the emergence of gender versus racial bias are neurogenetically dissociable.
Specifically, because WS is associated with reduced social fear, our data support a role of social fear processing in the emergence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping.

journalistic version:


Soul Food For Thanksgiving: Mac And Cheese, …

Soul Food For Thanksgiving: Mac And Cheese, ‘Red Drink,’ And More
November 20, 2013
The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time
by Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller is a lawyer and former special assistant to President Clinton. After the president’s second term, finding himself with extra time on his hands, he ended up spending the next decade or so researching soul food. “With the only qualifications of eating the food a lot, and cooking it some, I dove in,” says Miller.

Getting past some stereotypes about soul food is one goal of his new book. Miller says the common perception is that soul food is slave food, but that’s only partially true

“A lot of time master and slave were eating out of the same pot,” he says. “So it was really only on the really large plantations … that you had this bifurcated feeding system where the enslaved got some set of foods and the big house got different cuisines. But for the most part, the economics and the reality of such meant that people were often eating the same food.”

During his research, Miller ate in over 150 restaurants serving soul food, often posting pictures of his meals on Facebook. Concerned friends sent messages, asking about his health.

The Brain As An Analogy Machine

The Brain As An Analogy Machine

How humans think.  The human brain as an analogy machine.
April 26, 2013

14: banana … analogy is much more frequent

15:50 “Genious is the ability to make metaphors”

Complex numbers were not born from metaphors.

Controversial areas?

< 37 “my reality” Certainly, but … language is universal, e.g. road, slippery slope, …

38:15 simplistic analogy
38:20 We have to learn how to pick and choose among our perceptions of the world. It’s very easy to fall for stereotypes. Stereotypes are rampant.
38:33 It’s also necessary for us to have stereotypes. We can’t know everything in infinite detail. We have to make snap judgements.

bad analogies

See also:


Are we pre-dispositioned to make stereotypes?
Aug 2011