SCIENCE & Why Christians Inadvertently Support Negative Stereotypes

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The “stereotype threat” means that when you tell someone about a stereotype relevant to them, they will usually then act in accordance with that stereotype – even without realizing it. See how this occurs with “Christians and Science” in the New York Magazine article and research cited below. Also be aware that this can affect your opinions and views of other cultures, ethnicities, etc.

Christians Are Bad at Science When You Remind Them a Lot of People Think Christians Are Bad at Science

by Melissa Dahl, Science of Us, New York Magazine 1/15/16.

You may not be familiar with the term stereotype threat, but chances are high you are familiar with the thing itself. It’s when you inadvertently behave in a way that fits the stereotype others hold about you. Studies over the years have shown, for example, that girls perform worse at math when you remind them of the “girls are bad at math” stereotype. And this noxious idea, incidentally, is apparently embedded so deep in our culture that researchers don’t even have to explicitly remind kids about the stereotype. If they simply ask students to write down whether they are males or females before taking a math test, the girls tend to perform worse.

Now, NPR’s Shankar Vedantam highlights some fascinating new research that applies the notion of stereotype threat to a whole new stereotype: that American Christians and science do not mix. This week, Vedantam appeared on Morning Edition to discuss the study, published recently in Social Psychological and Personality Science, reporting that Christian students in a study who were reminded of the Christians-hate-science stereotype subsequently performed worse on a test measuring scientific reasoning. In a separate experiment, the Christians who were told they were taking a test measuring their scientific reasoning did worse than the Christians who were told they were taking a test measuring their intuitive reasoning. ..

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