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Updated: Jan 26, 2023

Updated: May 26, 2022

How we think about others can influence how we behave in society. There is a common stereotype that men are smarter than women. We see this evidence everywhere around us; from how women are represented in media to the language used in our daily lives. When do these thoughts fill our heads? And how do they affect us?

Dr. Lin Bian in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, along with Drs. Andrei Cimpian and Sarah-Jane Leslie, looked at when gender stereotypes about smartness form in children. In their experiment, they told stories about a “really, really smart” person and a “really, really nice person” and asked children between the ages of 5-7 years old who was the boy in the stories. To follow up, they did another experiment asking children to pick a game between one for kids who were “really, really smart” and the other for kids who tried “really, really hard.” At a younger age, children picked their own gender, but girls between the ages of 6-7 started saying that the boys were smarter.

The impact of these stereotypes, in the long term, will steer many young women away from careers that are thought to require brilliance. You may wonder why these beliefs occur in the first place. It does not have to do with the actual ability of what a girl can do. At this age, girls tend to surpass their male peers in terms of school performance, and the girls in Dr. Bian and her colleagues' study knew this. When asked, both girls and boys agreed that in school, girls tend to do better. However, this did not seem to matter.

Ultimately, this research suggests that stereotypes related to brilliance with males seem to be acquired at an early age and are related to the activities that boys and girls are interested in.

To understand the development of these stereotypes, there needs to be more investigation, but we can see that perhaps parents, teachers, or the books and movies children are exposed to can help instill more positive views in young girls' minds.


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  • Writer's pictureGiana Kim

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

We’ve all come across times where we need to make a choice. From picking the outfit we’re going to wear to school to making life-changing decisions, we make decisions in our everyday lives. The psychology of choice explores why we (sub)consciously make the decisions we make and what motivates those decisions.

When making choices, we would think that having a variety of choices would make the decision-making process better and easier for us. However, recent research suggests that our ability to make decisions become easier when we are presented with fewer options. When people are faced with different choices that are similar to one another, such as brand, color, or taste, people tend to have a difficult time choosing. Even after making a choice, we don't feel as satisfied because our mind drifts to the other decisions we could've made.

This finding was first presented in 2000 by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper. In their iconic experiment, they went into a grocery store and set up a booth of jam samples, and every few hours, they would change the selection of jams from 24 to 6. When there were 24 jams, 60% of customers would stop to get a sample, but only 3% of these customers would actually end up buying a jar. On the other hand, when there were 6 jams on display, 40% stopped by. Of these people, 30% bought a jar of jam!

The variety of choices were able to attract more attention, but in the end, fewer choices got them to purchase the jams.

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