Creative mindset reduces racial ingroup bias in empathic neural responses

Tengbin Huo, Simone Shamay-Tsoory, Shihui Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spontaneous racial categorization of other-race individuals provides a cognitive basis of racial ingroup biases in empathy and prosocial behavior. In two experiments, we investigated whether fostering a creativity mindset reduces racial ingroup biases in empathy and undermines spontaneous racial categorization of other-race faces. Before and after a creative mindset priming procedure that required the construction of novel objects using discreteness, we recorded electroencephalography signals to Asian and White faces with painful or neutral expressions from Chinese adults to assess neural activities underlying racial ingroup biases in empathy and spontaneous racial categorization of faces. We found that a frontal-central positive activity within 200 ms after face onset (P2) showed greater amplitudes to painful (vs. neutral) expressions of Asian compared with White faces and exhibited repetition suppression in response to White faces. These effects, however, were significantly reduced by creative mindset priming. Moreover, the creative mindset priming enhanced the P2 amplitudes to others’ pain to a larger degree in participants who created more novel objects. The priming effects were not observed in control participants who copied objects constructed by others. Our findings suggest that creative mindsets may reduce racial ingroup biases in empathic neural responses by undermining spontaneous racial categorization of faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10558-10574
Number of pages17
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number20
StatePublished - 9 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • EEG
  • creative mindset
  • empathy
  • racial categorization
  • racial ingroup bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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