If you were to view an article about the diversity of Saudi Arabian life, and it included the following images, what would you likely take away from the article?
Elisabeth R. drew our attention to a recent study asking about the relationship between images and text. It found that, when images that confirmed a reader’s stereotypes about a place were paired with a complex textual narrative, they detracted from the ability of the reader to appreciate the way that the text undermined those same stereotypes. In fact, even if there were a diversity of photographs, if any of those photographs confirmed pre-existing stereotypes, learning was undermined. And, if one only looked at photographs, those disconfirming your preconceived notions were likely to be overwhelmed by those confirming them.
So I guess that means that the entire premise of our blog–pairing images with analysis–is fundamentally flawed. In fact, we’re likely simply reinforcing everyone’s stereotypes! Alas! You should stop reading us right now!Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.