In-group biases and oculomotor responses: beyond simple approach motivation.
Moradi ZZ., Manohar S., Duta M., Enock F., Humphreys GW.
An in-group bias describes an individual's bias towards a group that they belong to. Previous studies suggest that in-group bias facilitates approach motor responses, but disrupts avoidance ones. Such motor biases are shown to be more robust when the out-group is threatening. We investigated whether, under controlled visual familiarity and complexity, in-group biases still promote pro-saccade and hinder anti-saccades oculomotor responses. Participants first learned to associate an in-group or out-group label with an arbitrary shape. They were then instructed to listen to the group-relevant auditory cue (name of own and a rival university) followed by one of the shapes. Half of the participants were instructed to look towards the visual target if it matched the preceding group-relevant auditory cue and to look away from it if it did not match. The other half of the participants received reversed instructions. This design allowed us to orthogonally manipulate the effect of in-group bias and cognitive control demand on oculomotor responses. Both pro- and anti-saccades were faster and more accurate following the in-group auditory cue. Independently, pro-saccades were performed better than anti-saccades, and match judgements were faster and more accurate than non-match judgements. Our findings indicate that under higher cognitive control demands individuals' oculomotor responses improved following the motivationally salient cue (in-group). Our findings have important implications for learning and cognitive control in a social context. As we included rival groups, our results might to some extent reflect the effects of out-group threat. Future studies could extend our findings using non-threatening out-groups instead.