David R. Henderson  

Economics Strikes Again: Stereotypes Give Way to Information

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Another classic study by Darley & Gross published in 1983, found that people applied a stereotype about social class when they saw a young girl taking a math test, but did not when they saw a young girl not taking a math test. Two attempts at exact replication have failed. And both replication attempts actually found the opposite pattern - that people apply stereotypes when they have no other information about a person, but switch them off when they do.
This is from Claire Lehmann, "How a rebellious scientist uncovered the surprising truth about stereotypes," Quillette, December 4, 2015. The whole thing is worth reading.

Another excerpt:

Lest one thinks that these results paint a bleak picture of human nature, Jussim and his colleagues have also found that people tend to switch off some of their stereotypes - especially the descriptive ones - when they interact with individuals. It appears that descriptive stereotypes are a crutch to lean on when we have no other information about a person. When we gain additional insights into people, these stereotypes are no longer useful. And there is now a body of evidence to suggest that stereotypes are not as fixed, unchangeable and inflexible as they've historically been portrayed to be.


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COMMENTS (5 to date)
E. Harding writes:

There is nothing surprising about this at all.

Steve Y. writes:

"people tend to switch off some of their stereotypes - especially the descriptive ones - when they interact with individuals."

So the campus diversity police do have a point, though diversity goals seem limited to race, class, and sex. (See how I'm open to "new" information, albeit from 1983?)

I hope they are equally diligent in striving for diversity in philosophical, political, and religious views, but, as the Duke said, that'll be the day.

David R. Henderson writes:

@E. Harding,
There is nothing surprising about this at all.
I’m not sure what your point is. Is it that I should post only things that are surprising? Or is it some other point?

John Thacker writes:

The Stereotype Accuracy collection of studies is on my shelf. It was an interesting read. I think that it may be out of print because people are not interested in the topic for what sacred beliefs it might puncture.

Nathan W writes:

I know a guy who, in conversation, routinely applies just about every stereotype I've ever heard of, and moreover will vociferously defend the stereotypes as basically true and broadly applicable to the various groups.

But put face to face with an actual person, he's pretty decent and open with just about anyone.

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