You probably don’t think you look threatening to harmless strangers, and you most likely have no intention of taking advantage of those you perceive as vulnerable. But the same can’t be said for everyone, which is why Williams syndrome can be a blessing and a curse.
A new study claims to be the first “to report the absence of racial stereotypes in any human population.” Those that the researchers found to be without prejudices were the 20 children tested who have Williams syndrome.
People with the syndrome were already known to have heart and vascular problems, major difficulties with abstract thought, and a vague concept of space. They were also known for being garrulous, but the complete lack of racial stereotypes was a new finding.
“The unique hypersociable profile of individuals with Williams syndrome often leads them to consider that everybody in the world is their friend,” said the study’s co-author Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg in a press release. The direct conclusion from this study is something that should be treasured—that it’s possible to accept all races as equal and not hold any racial stereotypes.
However, the foundation for why those with Williams syndrome can operate like this is what’s troubling. Not having a fear of anyone—regardless of their demeanor or speech—can have potentially devastating consequences. The deletion of about two dozen genes that leads to this “hypersociable” personality can also cause people with Williams syndrome to ignore warning signs of danger, which, sadly, increases their risk of being victimized by sexual predators or other criminals.
It goes without saying that life without racial stereotypes is something we should all strive towards. Unfortunately for those with Williams syndrome, this innate outlook seems to come at the expense of any sort of social fear.