Neural and behavioral effects of regulating emotional responses to errors during an implicit racial bias task
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Emotion regulation plays a key role in several theories of prejudice reduction. Here, we tested whether engaging in emotion regulation strategies while performing an implicit racial bias task would alter neural and behavioral manifestations of bias. Participants either suppressed or reappraised in a positive light the distress associated with making errors during the WIT while EEG was recorded. Originally, we hypothesized that if participants experienced less distress when they made errors, they would be less motivated to correct their behavior. We predicted this would reduce accuracy and increase expression of racial bias. Furthermore, we expected that the error-related negativity (ERN), a neural signal that is thought to reflect distress over errors, would be reduced in response to regulating emotions. However, contrary to initial predictions, results indicated that engaging in either regulation strategy actually did not impact performance. Additionally, suppress reduced signs of bias-related compunction. On the other hand, reappraisal was found to increase ERNs following errors indicative of racial bias. This may reflect the recruitment of overlapping neural regions during reappraisal that are typically utilized during error monitoring while performing the racial bias task.