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Vanilla scented stereotyping


So ladies, you’d rather buy a car from a woman. A new study from the Journal of Consumer Research shows women prefer female service providers in situations where they might fall prey to stereotypes about their math and science abilities. Nice to know it’s not hair color.

“One of the most widely held stereotypes in North America is that women’s competence and aptitude in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) domains is less than men’s,” write authors Kyoungmi Lee (Yonsei University, Korea), Hakkyn Kim (Condordia University, Canada), and Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota).

These STEM stereotypes definitely shape the way women shop. In particular, women avoid situations in which they fear they will be fall victim to the stereotype, especially when male service providers are involved in the transaction. For example, when women want advice on investments or buying a car they will likely wonder if they are being taken advantage of or are being treated fairly.

Then right on cue, the research makes women sound flakey because researchers also revealed that if we smell vanilla, the apprehension magically goes away. “In a vanilla-scented environment, the effect of possibly being stereotyped seemingly does not alter female consumers’ intentions to transact with firms, even when the firms promoted themselves using male salespersons,” the authors write.

Source: University of Chicago Press, MedicalNewsToday


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