Subtle cues can influence stereotypes

Dec 11, 2006

Seemingly innocent questions, subliminal messaging and placement of common items could cue stereotypes, two studies by U.S. and Canadian researchers said.

Researchers said their studies don't explain all differences in test scores or academic preferences. But, they said, subtle cues may influence a question or two on a standardized test, the Washington Post said Monday.

Psychologists Jennifer Steele of York University in Toronto and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University in Boston asked women questions about telephone service and co-ed housing. The study said women asked about co-ed housing expressed a greater preference for the arts, potentially reaffirming a feminine stereotype.

The researchers also asked two groups to look at a plus sign on a computer screen. Occasionally something flashed on the screen. Those unreadable flashes of less than 0.1 second were words. Researchers found subjects exposed to feminine words expressed a preference for the arts over math than those who were flashed masculine words.

At Florida State University, a psychology graduate student found displaying the American flag when students were asked to solve math problems or anagrams can influence performance. He found white students, but not minorities, did better.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

Related Stories

An evolutionary heads-up—the brain size advantage

May 22, 2015

A larger brain brings better cognitive performance. And so it seems only logical that a larger brain would offer a higher survival potential. In the course of evolution, large brains should therefore win ...

Recommended for you

Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

May 22, 2015

In a new study led from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, researchers report that people can be conditioned to associate images with particular pain responses – such as improved tolerance to pain – even ...

All sounds made equal in melancholy

May 22, 2015

The room is loud with chatter. Glasses clink. Soft music, perhaps light jazz or strings, fills the air. Amidst all of these background sounds, it can be difficult to understand what an adjacent person is ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.