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Social stereotyping of left-handers in Serbia

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Social tolerance towards left-handed people is commonly accepted in the twenty-first century, though not universal. However, at the level of social cognition a subtle bias against this visible minority group might not have disappeared. To investigate this possibility we adopted the theoretical framework of the stereotype content model (SCM) whereby two fundamental dimensions (warmth and competence) are sufficient to explain group differences in stereotype content. We examined how a large sample of medical students (N=300) perceived nine social groups (seven with various physical, social, or mental handicaps, and the two target groups of left- and right-handers), and four “anchor” groups comprising educated people, pensioners, drug addicts, and rich people) which are considered as prototypical in terms of the SCM. Hierarchical cluster analysis was performed to determine similarity of groups in the warmthĂ—competence two-dimensional space. Four clusters were identified, with left- and right-handers located in the same cluster together with educated people. This cluster had higher ratings on both warmth and competence (i.e., more positive stereotype) compared with all other groups. However, within-cluster analysis showed that the left-handed group was perceived as lower on both dimensions compared to the right-handed group. This statistically significant difference suggests that implicit bias against left-handed individuals has not vanished despite pervasive social tolerance. Possible mechanisms that may explain this subtle and subliminal stereotyping are discussed.
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Keywords: Left-handedness; Social bias; Stereotype content model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinical Research Centre, North Metropolitan Area Health Service, Perth, Western Australia 2: Institute for Hygiene and Medical Ecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia 3: Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb, Croatia

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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