Social Exclusion and National Identity in the UK: An Fmri Study

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 132 (University of Glasgow)
Sujin Hong , NRlabs Neuropolitics Research, University of Edinburgh
This paper uses fMRI brain scanning to investigate the impact of national identity on neural responses to ostracism. The cyberball paradigm (Williams & Jarvis, 2006) has been used extensively to examine the neural responses of different groups of individuals to social exclusion. Different patterns of neural involvement have been observed when individuals experience exclusion in a virtual ball game by their own gender compared with when they experience exclusion by those of the opposite gender. Differential neural recruitment has also been observed when processing exclusion by participants’ own race peers and others. Employing a cyberball design, the current study will investigate whether indicators of nationality can also be expected to affect people’s responses to the behaviour of others. Does exclusion by in-group nationals hurt more than exclusion by out-group nationals? Large swathes of the UK population feel increasingly excluded from the decision structures in Westminster. The on-going discussions on a second independence referendum in Scotland and the differential results on the UK’s referendum on EU membership in Northern Ireland and Scotland are only likely to exacerbate this perception and reinforce the national lines along which key divides lie. In this study, we ask if the presence of indicators of national identity modulates neural responses to the exclusion or inclusion of participants’ by their own nationals or by other nationals, using indicators of Scottish and English nationality.