British footballers are notoriously bad at penalty shoot outs during world tournaments, it is not only David Beckham, and often the public put this down to a lack of ability. However, according to researchers from the University of St Andrews the poor performance is NOT due to a lack of ability but is a direct result of stereotyping: we believe that our players are inherently bad at penalty shoot outs and this stereotype influences player?s performance. David Beckham?s failed penalty shoot out, for example, then proves this stereotype.
Stereotypes are not all bad though, Germany, for example, seem to benefit from the stereotype which is that they are good at taking penalty kicks. In fact the researchers say that with the right stereotype people can start succeeding not only at penalty shoot outs, but in other areas of performance too.
The recent article in Scientific American Mind co authored by St Andrews University professor, Stephen Reicher, shows how and why stereotypes can help or hinder performance in various different groups of people from females mathematicians and elderly folk to golfers and psychologists. To read the article click here