Giles and Stereotype Accuracy
By Bryan Caplan
The weakest part of Martin Giles’ Why Americans Hate Welfare is his dismissive treatment of stereotypes. He cites a number of psychological experiments on the emergence of baseless stereotypes. But he at best downplays the growing literature on stereotype accuracy. For example, he does not even cite the excellent volume Stereotype Accuracy : Toward Appreciating Group Differences, edited by Yueh-Ting Lee, Lee J. Jussim, and Clark R. McCauley. I especially love the chapter by David Funder.
Curious? Check out John Ray’s fun, scholarly, and web-accessible defense of stereotypes, “Do We Stereotype Stereotyping?”
One of my favorite examples of stereotype accuracy comes from the field of personality psychology. Popular stereotypes tell us that men are more logical and women are more emotional. Lie? Bigotry? Satanism? Personality tests confirm an even stronger pattern than I expected. Myers-Briggs type tests have a Thinking/Feeling measure. The breakdown for males is about 60/40. The breakdown for females is about 30/70. You may be able to create imaginary stereotypes in a psych lab, but here is one prominent stereotype backed up by a 30 percentage-point chasm.
Does this stereotype fit you? The last time I checked, you can’t take an official Myers-Briggs test over the web, but the Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a close substitute – and it’s free.