07/25/2014 09:19 am ET Updated Jul 25, 2014

How Stereotypes Take Shape

Trina Dalziel via Getty Images

Unfair and offensive as they may be, stereotypes are ubiquitous. Logic tells us it’s ludicrous to label all, or most, members of a particular ethnic group as lazy, or untrustworthy, or unusually smart, but such shorthand thinking remains remarkably resilient.

Why do we do it? How do such stereotypes develop? In a fascinating new paper, a team of researchers led by University of Aberdeen psychologist Douglas Martin provides evidence that they are an unfortunate result of the way we process and communicate knowledge.

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