Picture this -- you're at a bar with your significant other and you leave him or her for a few moments to collect your drinks. You're only gone a few minutes but when you return, you find an attractive stranger in your place, whispering sweet nothings into your partner's ear. How would you react towards your partner? This is the situation that Slotter and fellow researchers had ninety-nine undergraduates immerse themselves in.
You can't choose your family, say the metaphorical "they," but you can choose your friends. Choose wisely, but bear in mind that regardless of whether or not the decision is yours, you are going to be judged on it. The credit for some of the most seminal work on social stigma goes to Erving Goffman who worked on defining what is meant by social stigma and delineating its variants. According to Goffman, social stigmas may be physical "abominations" such as deformities or handicaps, "tribal stigmas" such as race or religion, and character flaws, such as a criminal record or drug abuse.
Is intelligence fluid or crystalline? Is it a function of nature or nurture? Are you born smart, or is the power of your brain under no one's control but your own? You might have cruised through classes at school, or you might have struggled and wondered how your peers managed to pass their classes so effortlessly. In the first case, perhaps you met your match at university when you found you were no longer at the top of the class. In the second, perhaps you had just spent your life assuming some people were born smarter than others. In both cases you are treating intelligence as if it were a static trait -- you're born with a fixed quantity of it, and that quantity never changes.
It was only last month that we learned how shared negative opinions and attitudes can result in the formation of speedy and genuine relationships between people. Now there's research to show that a pessimistic outlook might be better for mental health overall. Before you take this as your cue to walk around with a frown and expect to live longer as a result, it might be worth your while (and your life) to take a closer look at the study by O'Mara, McNulty and Karney that makes this claim.
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