Monday, June 13, 2005

Stereotypes and decisions

A recent study shows that people use people's physical appearance to make decisions, even very important ones such as electing a president. Psychology Today has an interesting article on how to choose a president, comparing past (and current) presidents' promises to actual happenings, with the conclusion that, if people voted based on these promises, they definitely go short-changed.

It's sad, but it's true. We do judge a book by its cover, and a person by his/her appearance. Isn't that kind of judgement the onset of prejudice? We look at someone, and almost instantly compare them to us, or our standard. There have been studies that indicate that, even with those of us who think we don't make those kinds of judgements, our subconscious does.

I just found this wonderful site by the photographer Eric Myer. Apart from great photography, he has a page, Stereotypes that tests these snap judgements we all make. By mixing the top and bottom of a head and torso, you can see how drastically it changes the person, and the impression he/she makes on you. If you look at it honestly, you may find yourself very uncomfortable with your reactions to these faces. I know I did.

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