To understand the nature of violence between groups has led to a lot of research that investigates the nature of ingroups vs outgroups. Now new research reveals what makes individuals exhibit violent behaviour towards people of other groups.
Researchers (Lasko et al, 2022 as cited in ScienceDaily, 2022) took 35 male university students and assigned them a competitive and aggressive task in competition with either students from their own university or students from another.
In reality, the task took place against a computer.
The researchers discovered that those individuals who were more aggressive against those who they believed were from another university, had greater activity in parts of the brain called the nucleus accumbens and the vmPFC or ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These areas are highly involved in rewarding behaviour.
These findings indicate that for the brain, higher aggression against individuals of another group is rewarding and thus may provide positive emotions. As ScienceDaily states, prior research has focused on the negative emotions such as anger when considering violence or aggression against individual of another group, but this research gives us clues as to why violence or aggression might be used and sustained by neural circuitry involved in reward.
Understanding the relationship between neural circuitry and psychology is crucial if future research is to deal with the question of how to reduce intergroup violence.
image credits: sw_reg_03/pixabay
Virginia Commonwealth University. (2022, June 16). Us versus them: Harming the 'outgroup' is linked to elevated activity in the brain's reward circuitry: A new study used brain imaging to explain why humans are aggressive toward rival groups. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 22, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220616135231.htm