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Psychology researcher receives NSF grant

Author: J.D. Warren
September 29, 2020

UCR psychology researcher Brent Hughes has received a $495,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand upon his study into the phenomena known as “deindividuation” – the tendency for people tend to view members of their own groups as individuals, but members of other racial groups as interchangeable and indistinct. 

Brent Hughes
Brent Hughes

In his research, Hughes has looked at the high-level visual cortex to see how it tunes into differences in the faces of white and black people. The high-level visual cortex specializes in processing faces. 

The research will expand upon Hughes’ past research into deindividuation by evaluating whether this poorer recognition for racial “outgroups” leads to greater fear of those groups, whether these perceptions are fixed or flexible, and interventions that could prevent the spread of fear. 

“The proposed research … is directly relevant to addressing race-based disparities in the United States,” Hughes wrote in his grant proposal. 

Among problems the research hopes to address is misidentification in police lineups. White witnesses to crimes correctly identify 60% of white perpetrators, but only 45% of Black perpetrators. 

The term of the grant is three years.