Why appearance matters or “to behave as if”

post by AnnaLeptikon · 2014-08-31T19:00:38.209Z · score: -1 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 17 comments
"*checking the name of the writer* Ooookay, this article about appearance is written by a woman. As was expected. It's probably not worth to read it..."

If you thought something like this you confirmed how prejudices dominate our mind. And even if you didn't think something like that, you can't argue its importance away.


prejudices and stereotypes

Prejudice is prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case. (wikipedia)

The cognitive function of stereotypes is to help make sense of the world. They are a form of categorization that helps to simplify and systematize information. Thus, information is more easily identified, recalled, predicted, and reacted to. (wikipedia)

Prejudices and stereotypes might be useful and also harmful in some situations, but they definitely exist with all their advantages and disadvantages. They are based on the fastest available information. General assumptions about latent variables (such as intelligence and character) are made ​​on external  factors such as behavior and appearance.

Pygmalion effect/self-fulfilling prophecy

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon whereby the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform.[1] (Or the observer thinks it would be so!) A corollary of the Pygmalion effect is the golem effect, in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. (wikipedia)

So what others (and we) expect from us influences how they and we behave and therefore influences our future and what we become!

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses. (wikipedia)

Because it is easier to confirm people in their presumption than to convince them otherwise, it's a good decision to look like you want people to think you are as a person.

Minority influence/innovation

Majority influence refers to the majority trying to produce conformity on the minority, while minority influence is converting the majority to adopt the thinking of the minority group.[1] Unlike other forms of influence, minority influence usually involves a personal shift in private opinion. Minority influence is also a central component of identity politics.(wikipedia)

Minorities have a bigger impact when they: are consistent, are part of the ingroup and differ just in this one point (Idiosynkrasiekredit). As an example, your chances are higher to convince others to legalize cannabis if you wear suits instead of dreadlocks and hippie clothes. Your influence is therefore likely to be bigger if you behave and look like a adapted or even successful person.

Self-evaluation

Since what others think of you will modify your self-evaluation, your appearance will influence your self-evaluation, too. Also by direct feedback when looking in the mirror.


further thoughts/questions:
  • probably only people who thought about this already will be attracted by the topic and read this article ^^
  • in the opposite way: being dressed to well might make you look stupid (imagine a "Barbie" talking about AI)
  • To which extend is it useful to "behave as if"?
  • What do you think about this thoughts in general?

My personal background: I tried lots of different styles (bold, dreadlocks, gothic, sporty, well-dressed ... ) and experienced big effects on how people behaved towards me.(pictures)

17 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by jamesf · 2014-08-31T22:08:31.497Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"checking the name of the writer Ooookay, this article about appearance is written by a woman. As was expected. It's probably not worth to read it..."

The best way to get me to actually throw charity out the window, is to imply that I'm likely to throw charity out the window because I explicitly thought a dumb thing relating to your personal characteristics.

comment by AspiringRationalist · 2014-09-01T00:46:11.382Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"checking the name of the writer Ooookay, this article about appearance is written by a woman. As was expected. It's probably not worth to read it..."

The best way to get me to actually throw charity out the window, is to imply that I'm likely to throw charity out the window because I explicitly thought a dumb thing relating to your personal characteristics.

This looks like an example of the Pygmalion effect - you read less charitably because the expectations are low.

comment by Dagon · 2014-09-01T07:19:38.274Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a rebellion effect as well. I tend to overcorrect for noticeable manipulation attempts, and this means that I react in the opposite was as the author intends.

Accusing me of wanting to skip the article due to shallowness very nearly made me skip the article.

comment by TheMajor · 2014-09-01T14:04:55.213Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I skipped the article for exactly this reason (although now that I have spare time I might read it).

comment by V_V · 2014-09-01T09:06:57.057Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"checking the name of the writer Ooookay, this article about appearance is written by a woman. As was expected. It's probably not worth to read it..." If you thought something like this you confirmed how prejudices dominate our mind. And even if you didn't think something like that, you can't argue its importance away.

Ooookay, this article about prejudice is written by somebody who plays the gender card in the very first line. It's probably not worth to read it...

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon whereby the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform.[1] (Or the observer thinks it would be so!) A corollary of the Pygmalion effect is the golem effect, in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. (wikipedia)

Link

As Wikipedia says, this effect is difficult to replicate.

Majority influence refers to the majority trying to produce conformity on the minority, while minority influence is converting the majority to adopt the thinking of the minority group.[1] Unlike other forms of influence, minority influence usually involves a personal shift in private opinion. Minority influence is also a central component of identity politics.(wikipedia)

Link

Minority influence can be postive or negative.

Since what others think of you will modify your self-evaluation, your appearance will influence your self-evaluation, too. Also by direct feedback when looking in the mirror.

So?

comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-09-01T18:24:17.153Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooookay, this article about prejudice is written by somebody who plays the gender card in the very first line. It's probably not worth to read it...

Also, by calling attention to the fact that this article was written by a woman which is apparently associated with not being worth reading and then proceeding to write an article that is in fact not worth reading, the author ironically provides salient evidence for the stereotype she seeks to dismiss.

comment by V_V · 2014-09-01T21:37:23.475Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ironically yes. Fortunately for women, the Bayesian update is going to be small.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-01T10:15:02.583Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you thought something like this you confirmed how prejudices dominate our mind. And even if you didn't think something like that, you can't argue its importance away.

Basically you start the article with saying that people have to take your prejudges about how people are going to read the article seriously.

in the opposite way: being dressed to well might make you look stupid (imagine a "Barbie" talking about AI)

Dressing well depends very much on your audience. If you want to talk about AI you could wear a T-Shirt or hoodie with a Logo of some Hacker conference to signal that you are a hacker who knows something about computers.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-09-01T08:38:59.515Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And even if you didn't think something like that, you can't argue its importance away.

It's not clear. To the extent something happens only rarely, it's unimportant. In the hypothetical where this event happens very rarely, it's not important, and so someone who has that information can argue against the importance of that event. If in actuality, we can't argue against its importance, this suggests that it happens more frequently, but you didn't argue that (at that point).

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-09-01T12:44:38.473Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Starting off by negging the reader? Kthxbye.

comment by HalMorris · 2014-09-01T01:31:16.472Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you thought something like this you confirmed how prejudices dominate our mind.

You might have written "If you thought something like this then you're not reading this line".

There are two kinds of people in the world, people who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and people who don't.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Good luck finding the right image to project to the world. It's not easy.

comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-08-31T20:56:57.077Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prejudice is prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case.

How exactly does this differ from a Bayesian prior?

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon whereby the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform.[1] (Or the observer thinks it would be so!) A corollary of the Pygmalion effect is the golem effect, in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. (wikipedia)

Um, there is a lot of debate about whether this effect exists.

comment by AnnaLeptikon · 2014-08-31T21:20:54.440Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Am I not allowed to call it "prejudice" if it's like a Bayesian prior?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-09-01T10:19:27.498Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not a matter of "allowed".

Given the nature of the website it would make sense for you to analyse the relationship between what you are saying and Bayesian priors if you want to convince people.

comment by kalium · 2014-08-31T21:55:38.535Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In practice, it differs in that once an opinion is formed it's sticky and contrary evidence tends not to result in updating.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-09-01T01:28:10.859Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or, it starts from a poor probability assignment in the first place.

Basically, prejudice as a bad thing is poor Bayesian reasoning, not all Bayesian reasoning. Unfortunately, many opponents of prejudice would insist on throwing out some good Bayesian reasoning as well.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-09-01T01:24:21.909Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How exactly does this differ from a Bayesian prior?

The key in discussing prejudice as something bad is to distinguish it from general Bayesian reasoning, which is good if done right.

Your question points to the failure of the OP to distinguish between good and bad Bayesian reasoning.