I came across an interesting piece on BBC News about how the Japanese like to date according to blood type. Despite having no real scientific basis, attributing characteristics and compatibility according to blood group is big in Japan. There are four blood types: A, B, AB and O. As are dependable and self-sacrificing; Bs are flamboyant, free-thinking but selfish, and considered the black sheep; ABs are logical and balanced, but can be quite high maintenance; while Os are decisive and confident (being an O myself, I’m quite pleased with this).
Japan's blood type fascination has even led to a range of self-help books. I can imagine the titles: ‘How To Live With An A Type’ or ‘Help The AB In Your Life’.
It made me think about the many methods we employ to judge people, rational or otherwise.
A recent study found how a child’s popularity at school is directly proportional to their size. In a study, children were asked to name the three classmates they’d most like to come to their party and the three that they’d least like.
Average and underweight children received the majority of invitations with some obese classmates not making any guest lists at all; even children as young as five displayed this bias. Just like most of us grown-ups, the children were more likely to attribute positive characteristics to average-weight and underweight children while fat friends were considered lazy, rude and incompetent.
It doesn’t take yet another study to tell us that we’re all prone to pass judgements on people, but it’s somewhat alarming to realise how naturally it comes to us and that children can be as discriminatory as the rest of us. If you don’t believe me, visit Project Implicit, an ongoing Harvard study featuring online tests, which reveals the extent to which we all stereotype and have prejudicial associations. Take their Fat-Thin test and see for yourself. In a week that’s all about judging and deciding, I'm wondering how different the polls might be if one of the party leaders were on the tubby side — or female, or old, or mixed race. I also wonder if politicians in Japan ever lie about their blood type.