Can reading a ‘stupid story’ make you behave less intelligently (more stupidly)?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Markus Appel (pictured) has examined this question in a recent experimental study at the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz Institut für Pädagogik und Psychologie, Österreich.
81 participants read a story about an extremely unintelligent right-wing soccer hooligan dressed as a skinhead – and were then asked questions such as :
• What is the capital of Libya?
• What kind of speed is expressed by the letter ‘c’ in Physics?
• Who painted La Guernica?
The results were clearcut: “As expected, participants who read a narrative about a stupidly acting soccer hooligan performed worse in the knowledge test than participants who read a narrative about a character with no reference to his intellectual abilities.”
“The present study is, to our knowledge, the first to show media priming effects of story characters on cognitive performance.” say(s) the author(s).
A Story About a Stupid Person Can Make You Act Stupid (or Smart): Behavioral Assimilation (and Contrast) as Narrative Impact is published in Media Psychology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2011
– and can also be read in full here.