Ins and outs of stereotyping

Ben Aaron MacLeod writes.

I greatly enjoyed reading the short report ‘Sexuality, sexism and counter-stereotypical contact’ (July 2017) outlining the research presented by Keon West of Goldsmiths, University of London to the BPS Social Psychology Section Annual Conference. His results showing that just one out-of-character sexual interaction could bias perceptions of a person’s sexuality in a unidirectional fashion were shocking to me, but not wholly unexpected.

On reflection, I would suggest a possible factor underlying this effect to be the interplay between in-group and out-group status; that perhaps membership of an in-group requires ‘total purity’ in some views, yet a person’s out-group status cannot be diluted, in the judgement of others. Perhaps a repeat of the study in which all of the participants are homosexual might show a unidirectional effect in the opposite direction, and qualitative research may highlight participants’ perceptions of their own, as well as the character’s, in-group/out-group status?

I am glad that this subject is being studied, as it could potentially provide much greater insight into all forms of discrimination and eventually, one would hope, even methods for counteracting such a bias.

Ben Aaron MacLeod
Writer/author, Newcastle upon Tyne

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber