Phi Beta Cons


Truth about Stereotypes Revealed

If a lie is repeated enough, it often becomes truth, as the old expression goes. When it comes to academia, that can also be the case. (Global warming, anyone?)

Psychologists often use social psychologist Gordon Allport’s classic book The Nature of Prejudice to support their claims that stereotypes are inaccurate and erroneously pigeonhole their objects.
But one Rutgers University professor has discovered the oft-repeated mantra from scholars of  “stereotype inaccuracy” is based on exactly zero scientific evidence.

Social science professor Dr. Lee Jussim set out to prove “stereotype inaccuracy” and shout it from the mountaintops – and instead he discovered that scholarly claims of “stereotype inaccuracy” which he defines as “the extent to which a belief about a group that someone actually holds corresponds with or is discrepant from what that group is actually like” are baseless.

“Every article or book that declared stereotypes to be inaccurate either similarly cited no source, or ended in an identical dead end via a slightly different route,” he recently told The College Fix. “Famous psychologists declaring stereotypes inaccurate without a citation or evidence meant anyone could likewise do so, thereby creating an illusion that pervasive stereotype inaccuracy was ‘settled science.’ It was only if one looked for the empirical research underlying such claims did one discover that there was nothing there, just a black hole.” 

And that black hole is what is taught to students nationwide as gospel fact – probably because it’s politically incorrect to say stereotypes are grounded in realities.

Jussim, for his part, is not playing along. 

“Over the last 30 years or so, rigorous social science assessments of the accuracy of stereotypes have been steadily rolling in — and, usually (though not always), they show that people’s beliefs about groups are pretty (not perfectly) accurate,” he told The Fix. But he said when he presents his findings to peers, they sometimes respond aggressively, “sneering and insulting.”

So he’s taking his data to a larger audience. In addition to maintaining a blog on Psychology Today, he is co-founder of Heterodox Academy, a website for free-thinking professors who seek to improve academic disciplines through viewpoint diversity. 


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