What’s a quick way to become smarter?
Prime yourself by spending 5 minutes thinking about college professors.
Instead of influencing their subjects with an “elderly” stereotype, they set up an experiment in which participants had to spend 5 minutes describing either professors or secretaries. (The subjects, again, were undergraduates.) This time the experiment measured general knowledge, so the next stage of the experiment had the subjects answering Trivial Pursuit questions. They weren’t aware the two stages were connected.
What happened is almost unbelievable: subjects who had previously described professors— known for their perceived intelligence— attained, on average, 60% correct answers, against 46% for the people who had to describe secretaries.
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