Disorder reinforces stereotypes


Dutch researchers show how –
Their big idea is that stereotypes, being a set of simplified categories and judgements, can help people to cope with chaos. They are “a mental cleaning device in the face of disorder”. When our surroundings are full of chaos – be it dirt or uncertainty – we react by seeking order, structure and predictability. Stereotypes, for all their problems, satisfy that need.

To test that, the duo went to Utrecht station after it hadn’t been cleaned for a few days and asked 40 travellers to fill in a questionnaire. Their task was to say how much Dutch, Muslim and homosexual people conform to different personality traits. When the cleaners returned to work, and the station had reverted to its usual spick self, Stapel and Lindenberg repeated their experiment.

They found that the volunteers held more strongly to stereotyped views when they sat in a dirty station, compared to a clean one. For example, they were more likely to rate Muslims as being ‘loyal’ and ‘aggressive’, gay people as ‘sweet’ and ‘feminine’, and Dutch people as ‘tolerant’ and ‘stingy’. The moods of the different volunteers didn’t differ between the two days, and didn’t affect their behaviour.

More here
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s