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10. Other People: Hacks 93–100 > 100. You Are What You Think

You Are What You Think

Thinking about how certain stereotypes behave can make you walk slower or get a higher score in a general knowledge quiz.

The concept of priming [Understand What Makes Faces Special] runs all the way through explanations of how perception influences behavior. Subliminal perception of photographs can prime you to prefer those photos in the future [Subliminal Messages Are Weak and Simple], and simply spending time with someone who is, say, rubbing his face can infect you with his mannerism [Monkey See, Monkey Do]. It’s not necessary to consciously perceive the photographs or the gestures for them to automatically alter our behavior.

Nowhere is this truer than in exemplar activation: being exposed to ideas of stereotypes of people (the exemplars), not even the people themselves, will prime the characteristic traits of those people, and you’ll begin to act in that way. It’s very odd, and very cool.


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