A little piece of paper that has an adhesive on one side, and a saying/design on the other, meant to be put on the bumper of a car.

Some are meant to entertain, others to decorate, and yet others to let people know how you feel about an issue.

Common bumper stickers include "honk if you love ____", "Jesus Saves", or "I'm going to kill you all!".

In an oft-cited sociology study, Frances Heussenstamm, a professor at California State College at Los Angeles, constructed an experiment. Five (5) blacks, five (5) whites, and five (5) latinos were recruited to attach a Black Panthers bumper sticker to their vehicle. Each five-member class was composed of three (3) males and two (2) females All had perfect driving records in the previous twelve (12) months, drove to and from the campus regularly using the Los Angeles highway system, and were told to drive legally and to avoid unfamiliar areas.

After seventeen (17) days, the study was halted because the $500 set aside for fines was exhausted, one member had already dropped out after three days, and the remaining members' driving records were getting too damaged.

The results at the end of the study resulted in thirty-three (33) citations, including "driving too slowly," and "making an unsafe lane change." The citations were equally distributed by race and sex.

The validity of the study can be questioned. There is the possibility of the Hawthorne effect. Secondly, the study was done several decades ago, and may not be as valid today. However, with the reports of "racial profiling," you may need to think twice about putting a controversial bumper sticker on your vehicle.

Personally, I think those types of bumper stickers are useless other than for agitation. A bumper sticker is not going to change anyone's mind. While it is everyone's right to voice their opinion, I feel the mode of the message is a reflection of consumerism and meaningless slogans. If you have never heard or seen an advertisement or commercial that made you want to go out and buy the mentioned product right then and there, then think about how ineffective a bumper sticker is.

Sources:
F.K. Heussenstamm. Bumper Sticker and the Cops. Transaction, 8, Feb 1971.

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