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Study: Stereotypes Influence Behavior

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Could stereotypes about behavior actually lead to the behavior being stereotyped? That may be a tough concept to follow but the idea is that if a person hears about a stereotype that impacts them often enough, it might change their behavior. There is an example of this – part of a study on the elderly conducted at USC.

Older participants were given articles to read and asked to remember the stories earning money with each word remembered. When one of the articles discussed memory loss in the elderly, the participants on average remembered 20% fewer words. Reading about a stereotype actually affected their memories.

The second part of the study was also very interesting: when the experiment was changed so that participants lost money by forgetting words the participants who read the article about stereotypes actually remembered more words.

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