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Exploring people’s thoughts about the causes of ethnic stereotypes

Anita Schmalor, Benjamin Y. Cheung,
Published: 19 January 2021
PLOS ONE , Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245517

Abstract: Much research has shown that people tend to view genes in rather deterministic ways—often termed genetic essentialism. We explored how people would view the causes of ethnic stereotypes in contexts where human genetic variability was either emphasized or downplayed. In two studies with over 1600 participants we found that people viewed ethnic stereotypes to be more of a function of underlying genetics after they read an article describing how ancestry can be estimated by geographic distributions of gene frequencies than after reading an article describing how relatively homogeneous the human genome was or after reading a control essay. Moreover, people were more likely to attribute ethnic stereotypes to genes when they scored higher on a measure of genetic essentialism or when they had less knowledge about genes. Our understanding of stereotypes is a function of our understanding of genetics.
Keywords: Personality / Culture / genetic polymorphism / Genetics / population genetics / Human genomics / genetic determinism / Genetic Dominance

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