A British journalist recently quoted UCSB psychology professor Aaron Sell as saying that blonde women are more warlike than others. There’s one problem, however — Sell says the article and all quotes attributed to him are entirely fabricated.
Psychology professor Aaron Sell said he was falsely quoted in a London Sunday Times article that claimed blonde women are prone to violent behavior. Since the article’s publication, Sell has asked the Times to retract the piece. In the article, entitled “Blonde women born to be warrior princesses,” writer John Harlow quotes Sell as describing blondes with terms such as ‘princess’ and ‘privileged.’
“I am quoted throughout Harlow’s article as having done research showing that blonde women are more aggressive, are more determined to get their own way, are more militaristic, are less likely to get into fights, are more prone to anger, are more confident, are more entitled and feel more attractive,” Sell said in a letter to the Times. “None of this is true.”
Sell and his colleagues at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology said they have conducted no research relating women, blonde hair and anger. The group sent a letter to the Times asking for a printed correction.
According to Sell, Harlow did contact him asking for permission to use Sell’s data as evidence in an article about aggressive blonde women. Sell, however, told him there was no relationship between blondes and anger.
“At his request, and as a courtesy to him, I reanalyzed our unpublished data to see if there was any relationship between being blonde and any variable I measured,” Sell said in his response to the Times. “There was not, and I told him so.”
Nevertheless, Harlow quoted Sell as saying otherwise.
“Sell suspects that blondes exist in a ‘bubble’ where they have been treated better than other people for so long they do not realize that men, in particular, are more deferential towards them than other women,” Harlow wrote. “‘They may not even realize they are treated like a princess,’ Sell said.”
Center for Evolutionary Psychology Co-director Leda Cosmides said the Times has not yet issued a retraction.
“People keep saying that the reason we should worry about the printing press going out of business is because they’re apparently the fact-checkers, but they don’t [check the facts],” Cosmides said. “The Times is not even making an effort to retract this even though we’ve told them that the facts they have told to be true are wrong.”