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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.

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

What does being beautiful mean for you?

Well, let’s think about it. Scrolling through Instagram, you might believe that beautiful people are thin, tall, and blonde. But is this really beautiful?

For many people, there are often unrealistic beauty standards. For example, many women desire the pumped-up lips, the thigh gaps, and the yanked-in waist. Young children now grow up seeing all of these unrealistic beauty standards and quickly become cautious of their social image and what they look like on social media. We see pictures of models and actors and start to compare ourselves to others. The figures we see in media are, then, used for social comparison. People use images to check whether they are beautiful or socially accepted.

Social media was supposed to be used in a friendly way to communicate and to interact with others, but it has become something we sometimes use to bully and shame others.

Isn’t it ironic that the purpose of social media was to bring people together, but in reality, it can make someone feel really alone? According to a study conducted by the Girl Scouts of America in 2010,

Out of over 1,000 adolescent girls surveyed,

88% of the girls believed that the media puts a lot of pressure on them to be thin, 65% believed that the body image represented in the fashion industry is too skinny, and 60% said they compared their body to what they see in magazines.

This should not be happening. Girls should not be growing up worrying about the way they look. As a teenager today, I know what my peers feel when they are being pressured to look a certain way. If you make a game with impossible rules, kids would never be able to win no matter how hard they try and would be disappointed in themselves. Our society has created this impossible game causing kids to always look down on themselves, leading to eating disorders, depression, and even suicide.

We have to change our mindsets on what is supposed to be beautiful. Social media should be more diverse; people of all gender, all races, and all shapes should be called beautiful and not just the small group of people. There are many people who are defying the standards of beauty—this is the realistic future we should have.

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