Being Told Not to Be Racist
The Internet has a very sad tradition it celebrates every February when, in honor of Black History Month, racists and/or stupid people take to social media and ask when will they finally get White History Month. (Easy answer: We already have it. It's the other 11 months.) It's almost as if giving people a reminder not to be racist actually makes them more racist than they were before.
But if you think that's just another example of the Internet turning normal people into asshats, science says it goes deeper than that -- it turns out that ordering people to do everything from "love thy neighbor" to not posting racial comments on Facebook might actually just make those problems worse.
"They've never seen anyone like me before. I am edgy and against the grain, baby."
They did an experiment on this at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where they split subjects into three groups. One group was given an "autonomy brochure," which just stressed the positive effects of not being prejudiced, a second was given no brochure at all, and a third was given a brochure that explicitly ordered them not to be prejudiced.
You can guess how that went if you've spent any time around, well, the general public. When they tested each group on how prejudiced they were, presumably by throwing a minority in front of them and yelling "Quick, call him a name!" the researchers found that the group with the "do what you want" pamphlet was less prejudiced than the group with no pamphlet. And yes, for the third group, being told to be politically correct actually made them more prejudiced than being told nothing at all.
Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images
"You syrup-swilling Swedish poodle shaver."