Nautilus

Why Did a Major Paper Ignore Evidence About Gender Stereotypes?

Some scientists may be motivated to support compelling narratives—social psychology has a long and checkered history that includes cherry-picking results, studies, and publications in order to advance them.Photograph by Everett Collection / Shutterstock

Let’s start with a quiz.

  1. Who was more likely to vote for Donald Trump in 2016, men or women?
  2. Who is more likely to commit a murder, men or women?
  3. Who receives higher grades in high school, boys or girls?
  4. Who is more likely to be labeled as having some sort of behavior problem in elementary school, boys or girls?

The answers are, respectively: men, men, girls, boys. Is it that surprising? If you got at least one right, without resorting to flipping a mental coin, you have just demonstrated to yourself that not all beliefs (stereotypes) about males and females are wrong. If you got three or four right, you should be convinced that your gender stereotypes are not inaccurate. You’re not alone: Lots of other people may—many actually do—hold fairly accurate gender stereotypes.

As a social psychologist, I study (among other things) the accuracy of gender stereotypes—the beliefs men and women, boys and girls, have about themselves as of these beliefs is one of the largest and most replicable findings in social psychology, an exception to what’s sometimes referred to as “”—the suggestion that, until recently, much of social psychology has been falling far short of its scientific ideals.

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