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Essentially biased: why people are fatalistic about genes

Heine, S.J, Dar-Nimrod, I., Cheung, B.Y. and Proulx, Travis ORCID: 2017. Essentially biased: why people are fatalistic about genes. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 55 , pp. 137-192. 10.1016/bs.aesp.2016.10.003

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We propose that people are genetic essentialists—that is, they tend to think of genetic attributions as being immutable, of a specific etiology, natural, and dividing people into homogenous and discrete groups. Although there are rare conditions where genes operate in these kinds of deterministic ways, people overgeneralize from these to the far more common conditions where genes are not at all deterministic. These essentialist biases are associated with some harmful outcomes such as racism, sexism, pessimism in the face of illnesses, political polarization, and support for eugenics, while at the same time they are linked with increased tolerance and sympathy for gay rights, mental illness, and less severe judgments of responsibility for crime. We will also discuss how these essentialist biases connect with the burgeoning direct-to-consumer genomics industry and various kinds of genetic engineering. Overall, these biases appear rather resistant to efforts to reduce them, although genetics literacy predicts weaker essentialist tendencies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0065-2601
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 January 2017
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2022 22:21

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