Social groups that elicit disgust are differentially processed in mPFC

Lasana T. Harris, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Social neuroscience suggests medial pre-frontal cortex (mPFC) as necessary for social cognition. However, the mPFC activates less to members of extreme outgroups that elicit disgust, an emotion directed toward both people and objects. This study aimed to counteract that effect. Participants made either superficial categorical age estimations or individuating food-preference judgments about people, while fMRI recorded neural activity. Besides replicating the reduced mPFC activity to extreme outgroups that elicit disgust, this study demonstrates that the same type of judgment for these individuals is processed in a region anatomically distinct from social groups that elicit exclusively social emotions (pity, envy, pride). Finally, inferring individuating information (food preferences) increases mPFC activation above superficial categorical judgments. This evidence fits differentiated mPFC processing of extreme outgroups, which activate mPFC less than other groups, but suggests that individuation increases activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Continuum Model
  • MPFC
  • Social emotions
  • Stereotype Content Model


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