It's Easier to be the King

Women need to act with confidence to get ahead. But when they do, they face a potential backlash. To understand this double bind, we must understand two types of stereotypes. One type is called descriptive: stereotypes about what people are likely to do. The other is prescriptive: stereotypes about what people should do. Women are particularly burdened by prescriptive stereotypes. They are expected to be warm, deferential, and undemanding. This prescriptive stereotype and the double bind it creates limit the ability of women to compete effectively.

~ It's good to be the queen but it's easier to be the king, McKinsey

Hypothetically Speaking

Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Baba Shiv, showed in a recent study, how "hypothetical questions don't merely measure our current attitudes: such questions can actually sway opinion and affect behavior." He explains the phenomenon of "push polls." This is when pollsters call up a voter and ostensibly asks for the voter's opinion but is really trying to push a viewpoint or agenda. The pollster can affect what a voter thinks about a candidate by posing hypothetical questions. The issue is these hypothetical questions bring up stereotypes in the voter's mind and can then taint what a voter thinks of a candidate.

"For example, if one of your stereotypes of politicians is that they're corrupt, then hearing a hypothetical question about a politician who took bribes will remind you of that stereotype, making you even less likely than before to vote for that politician in the near future."

Pretty sneaky, huh?