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Interracial marriage has grown in the United States over the past few decades, and polls show that most Americans are accepting of mixed-race relationships.
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that interracial marriages in the U. had doubled between 19 to about 15 percent, and just 11 percent of respondents disapproved of interracial marriage.
Participants responded faster to images of same-race couples and selected them more often for inclusion in the study.
More significantly, Skinner said, participants showed higher levels of activation in the insula — an area of the brain routinely implicated in the perception and experience of disgust — while viewing images of interracial couples.
“That indicates that viewing images of interracial couples evokes disgust at a neural level,” Skinner said.
As with all neuroscience studies, Skinner said, it is impossible to be certain whether the insula activation reflected a disgust response, since the insula is sometimes responsive to other emotions.
But in combination with the other experiments, the authors believe it is evidence of a neural disgust response.