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Un lungo articolo pubblicato su Aeon a firma Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, che insegna diritto e psicologia all’Università della Pennsylvania, ci invita a riflettere su come la sugrophobia (un termine di recente conio che sta ad indicare la paura di essere raggirati) possa essere un meccanismo di difesa efficiente, ma anche dannoso perché in grado di fermare lo sviluppo sociale.

In 2007, three experimental psychologists, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, coined the word ‘sugrophobia’, which would translate to something like a ‘fear of sucking’. The researchers – Kathleen Vohs, Roy Baumeister and Jason Chin – were looking to name the familiar and specific dread that people experience when they get the inkling that they’re ‘being a sucker’ – that someone is taking advantage of them, partly thanks to their own decisions. The idea that psychologists would study suckers academically seems almost ridiculous at first. But, once you start to look for it, it becomes clear that sugrophobia is not only real, it is a veritable epidemic. Its influence extends from the choices we make as individuals to the society-wide narratives that sow distrust and discrimination.

Secondo Tess Wilkinson-Ryan la sugrophobia è più della semplice paura di essere truffati, è piuttosto comune e ha anche dei costi sia a livello personale che sociale.

When your lunch costs more than you expected, when your co-worker calls in sick for the third time this month, when you let the insistent driver in the breakdown lane nose in front of you: for many people, these little interactions come with a special sting of self-recrimination: Wait, am I the fool here? The fear of being duped can be so aversive that it transcends rational prudence and becomes something more automatic and more intense – a true phobia.

On a personal level, the fear of being suckered can encourage someone to be risk averse, to avoid the kind of cooperation that is essential to any new venture. At the systemic level, the stakes of distrust are even higher. The fear of being a sucker can become an excuse to reject solidarity, to hold people under suspicion. Deployed at scale, sucker tropes help to perpetuate group stereotypes – about who can be trusted and who should be policed – and reinforce traditional class, race and gender hierarchies in ways that we scarcely appreciate.

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