Entries in stereotypes (6)


Beware of Claims about Single People that Come from Online Dating Services

Have you seen the headlines about the “Singles in America” survey? Match.com is oh-so-proud of it. The company boasts of the intellectual firepower behind their study. The survey is touted as “comprehensive” and the Match.com CEO brags that, “Since its inception, Singles in America has proven to be an unprecedented source of insight into the ideologies and lifestyle choices of today’s singles.”

Of course, the fact that the survey comes from Match.com should set off our scientific alarm bells. But Match.com points to their scholars in charge, and notes that the results are based on a representative sample of 5,000 American singles and 1,000 married people. Plus, sadly enough, many media outlets take the findings reported in the press release and run with them, as though they were ferrying precious cargo. So I think it is important to take a close look from a scientific perspective, and offer a less credulous perspective than you might find elsewhere.

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The “Halo” of Hot Women

When you see a really attractive woman, you might be struck by her beauty, but does her beauty affect what you assume is going on in her head? Or what kind of character she has? Perhaps. People tend to assume that physically attractive people hold other positive qualities just by looking at them—this is one example of the “Halo Effect” or what is also known as the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype. For example, observers assume that good-looking people are more socially skilled, better at their jobs, and more emotionally healthy (e.g., less anxiety or loneliness). But is there any truth to this perception? Are hot people actually higher on these qualities? Researchers examined this question in a recent study published in Psychological Science.

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Are Single People Stigmatized by Society?

If you are single, after graduation there isn’t one occasion where people celebrate you…Hallmark doesn’t make a “congratulations, you didn’t marry the wrong guy” card. And where’s the flatware for going on vacation alone? – Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Over the past few decades, the rate of marriage has declined while the rate of divorce has crept up. In spite of these major social shifts, most people still view marriage positively and think of it as the ideal state we should strive for. In fact, we hold the institution of marriage in such high regard that not only do we celebrate and reward marriages with extravagant ceremonies and gifts (even when it’s someone’s second, third, or fourth wedding!), but society also gives preferential treatment to people who are married. This bias favoring married over single people has only recently caught scientists’ attention and we are just beginning to learn how deep this prejudice runs.

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Do Men Really Think About Sex Every Seven Seconds?

Most of you have probably heard the statistic that men think about sex every seven seconds. If this is correct, it means that sex crosses men’s minds 514 times per hour. Talk about sex on the brain! But is there any truth to this statistic?

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The Attractiveness Stereotype and Barney’s “Crazy-Hot” Scale

Like it or not, one of the most influential factors in romantic attraction is physical attractiveness. That’s right, hotness! While some may denounce or shy away from this fact for fear of sounding superficial, the dirty little secret is that we’re all subject to the “beautiful is good” belief. Psychologists’ refer to this beauty bias as the “attractiveness stereotype,” and for decades they’ve shown that people have a tendency to assume that those who are physically attractive are not only desirable because they’re hot, but also because they are believed to possess a number of other socially desirable traits.

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Science "OR" Relationships?

As most people know, there are persistent barriers and biases that women face in scientific disciplines. But could their relationships be one of them? New research that will be appearing in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin highlights the conflict between the pursuit of romantic relationships and science/math for women.

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