Monday, April 27, 2009

The Sarah Boyle effect

New York Times:
[A]fter the video of her performance went viral, a flurry of commentary has focused on how we stereotype people into categories, how we fall victim to the prejudices of ageism or look-ism, and how we should learn, once and for all, not to judge books by their covers.

But many social scientists and others who study the science of stereotyping say there are reasons we quickly size people up based on how they look. Snap judgments about people are crucial to the way we function, they say — even when those judgments are very wrong.
...
One reason our brains persist in using stereotypes, experts say, is that often they give us broadly accurate information, even if all the details don’t line up. Ms. Boyle’s looks, for example, accurately telegraphed much about her biography, including her socioeconomic level and lack of worldly experience.

Her behavior on stage reinforced an outsider image.
Gulf News - Dubai:
"In this time and age people are becoming more competitive and you have to look good when seeking a job," said Hassan Galadari, a cosmetic surgeon, taking part in the conference.

"An employer looks at the way you look," he said, noting that cosmetic surgery has a huge market in this region.
Back to the NYT article:
Even as she expressed the hope that “maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example,” Ms. Boyle has begun to change her appearance in recent days, wearing makeup, dying her frizzy gray hair, and appearing in more stylish clothing.
The NYT article has before and after photos.

Related: Elective surgery in a recession.

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