The term stereotype has been defined in several ways in various contexts of applications. It depicts and judges fellow individuals in prejudiced, fixed, and compromising categories based on assumptions. Most of the presumptions are generated from the alleged attributes without tangible facts and truths. Stereotyping reduces individuals by assigning them to certain groups rather than perceiving them as people with their unique personal qualities and features (Holmberg). Individuals have different personalities regardless of age group, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or nationality, among other discriminating factors. Nonetheless, instead of being defined by their specific personal attributes, stereotyping treats them in a particular distinctive manner. The identification, or rather a distinction, is entirely based on certain features a category of people is believed to exhibit. The impacts of stereotyping individuals intensify when it is majorly considered irrevocable. The concept of stereotype changes daily and it is accompanied by both merits and demerits depending on the area of application in relation to social justice.
The Reasons for Stereotyping People
Judging people by superficial characteristics is detrimental and consequently, generalizing them into designated groups based on a common understanding is worse. Motives behind the stereotype are fuelled by a number of reasons ranging from what people hear, cognitive perspective (their thoughts), the way individuals remember, and assumptions humans make about scenarios. The process of categorization and the way human beings have been wired to think are the fundamental reasons for the social issue of stereotypes.
Stereotypes are created through Hearing other Peoples’ Opinions.
It is quite disheartening how people make haste decisions based on baseless and random opinions they hear. It can be helpful to take precautions against other people’s ideas about a certain group of individuals. However, it is in the best interest to justify such kinds of allegations before proceeding ahead to generalizing individuals. People become stereotypical because of their surrounding environment. Some stereotype others due to rumors they hear about them or by observing stereotypical images around them.
It is possible to learn and understand people whether they speak or remain silent. For instance, White children raised by their parents grow up listening to their parents’ opinions about Blacks. They grow with a certain assumption and perspective of Black people. When you inquire from such children what they perceive of Black people or their fellow Black children, their answer is quite predictable. They will provide a description depending on what they heard from their parents about the Black individuals. If the parents have been talking ill of the Blacks, chances are high they will provide such ill descriptions about Blacks (National Public Radio, Inc). Some people pay much attention to what is being said and they stereotype others from hearing other peoples’ suggestions. The young generation and adults transmit stereotypical behavior, for example, based on racism through hearing.
Stereotyping Individuals due to Thinking
The human brain is powerful software, and it perceives ideas in a unique manner. People think in different ways and group others from their past experiences and encounters with such categories of individuals. They think in terms of certain groups, according to their understanding, elucidate the characteristics of people for them. On most occasions, men are considered to be violent while women are gentle and caring (Niazi 2). When one crosses the line, it is hard for a person to make a sound decision based on facts, but rather they decide and judge depending on their thoughts.
Previous knowledge and understanding about a certain social group make people stereotype others who belong to the same category. It is due to the assumption, which results in the people thinking of similarities between the group they already knew and the current cohort. The possibility of identifying any differences between the previous category and the current group is dismissed. There are differences in what people think they know about a certain social group and the reality in most scenarios. Due to fixed minds, it is hard for some individuals to acknowledge the possibilities of change hence stereotyping others.
Inferences Lead to Stereotyping Others
Inferences quite often mislead and result in a wrong judgment of others. For example, when an individual is engaged in a certain occupation, there is an automatic assumption such a person is a professional in the field. The stereotypical inference goes ahead and makes people think such individuals cannot do well in other professions. Also, there are stereotypical opinions about families with people suffering from mental illness (van Zelst et al. 3). People tend to belittle some individuals from the mental hospital because of the normal inference of such victims. Therefore, human beings already have pre-formed assumptions depending on the health conditions of certain groups of people.
Stereotyping people based on gender, race, and color, among other factors, has become a determinant in role delegation. For example, Blacks are perceived to be fitted in low-income jobs while Whites, according to assumptions, deserve well-paying jobs. If a member of a certain category is seen doing a different job from the one expected, the stereotype is developed due to racism. Stereotypes caused by inferences can shift duties and obligations if sound decisions are not made.
Stereotyping Others Due to Remembrance
Human beings have been made in a way that they take interest and can identify distinctive things within a moment. After identification, they perform an illusory comparison between such distinctive matters. The stereotypical conclusion happens when these incidents happen simultaneously. Chances are extremely high on how an individual is likely to conclude based on the memory of the last time results. For instance, most African presidents, apart from a small fraction, are male. When the female president is elected, the scenario is so distinctive, and such a president is easily noticed and remembered. Also, based on race, for example, Asians are associated with negative things, unlike Whites, who are associated with recommendable behavior (Foster-Frau et al.). Therefore, negative things are given much attention and are remembered more easily as compared to positive things.
A combination of two distinctive features brings double attention and intensifies the remembrance level. A picture is created in an individual’s mind when a person of color engages in negative activities in a certain place. When another person of color is seen, remembrance makes people think and compare the individual with the previous group, and the stereotype is developed. Clearly, a unique individual performing a distinctive role influences and attracts people’s subsequent thinking.
Merits of Positive Stereotypes
The stereotype has several advantages based on race, gender, and social status, amongst other factors. Self-categorization, social identity, and optimal distinctiveness are among the benefits of stereotypes due to unique social attributes and personalities. For instance, Black children and females acknowledge and accept positive stereotypes reflecting the core values of their groups compared to other ordinary groups. Also, as a stereotyped group, Black children and women can collectively in a single voice raise their grievances and reject mistreatments. To empower a certain group, for instance, the LGBT community in the media industry, a public voice is the best strategy (Hermes 182). Practicing positive stereotypes of a certain category of individuals establishes distinctive identities which are valuable in today’s society.
There might be emphasizing dimensions regarding the group’s stereotypical excellence for a particular cohort of stereotypes. The group may formulate and implement coping mechanisms against stigmatization to eliminate negative stereotypes within their group and social status. In most cases, some women might be stereotyped negatively in the fields of technology, science, engineering, and mathematics. Such kinds of stereotyped women may shift their efforts and focus on gender –roles in different academic domains by participating actively in the groups they excel. For example, Black students may promote athletics by doing their best and excelling, hence changing the perspective of negative stereotypes engulfing Black intellectual ability and aptitude.
Embracing positive stereotypes in a particular group can be a way of shielding members from certain potential antagonism. For instance, stereotypes women can protect themselves from sexual hostility and harassment. By carefully self-stereotyping, a group can thwart negative energy and threats, hence preserving a positive concept of the group. For example, the community of LGBT can be in a group striving to empower other marginalized people in society (Hermes 182). When positively stereotyped, the group can develop a sense of belonging, and as a result, members cultivate self-esteem and accept themselves.
Positive stereotypes also eliminate other people’s negative impressions about the group. Self-promoting women can behave in a certain exemplary manner emphasizing positive attributes about their stereotyped group. The act can reflect communism and dependence, creating an attractive impression to earn the respect and recognition of others. Also, being warm and welcoming is a positive stereotype associated with gays. Such an impression mitigates any form of negative perception about gay Black men as compared to White targets, hence being treated importantly as colored men who are straight (National Public Radio, Inc). In addition, women who embrace positive stereotypes regarding benevolent sexism can merit men’s romantic interest within the conditions challenging the steadiness of the status quo.
Members of a particular stereotyped group can exhibit benefits in their performance and well-being from explicit and implicit reliance on effective associations. Such a scenario is evident when positive stereotypes are motivated, and members are likely to enhance performance under the stereotyped category. For instance, older individuals who depict exemplary age-oriented stereotypical wisdom are significant during decision-making processes requiring great knowledge and understanding (Pennington 2). Sometimes, self-stereotyping can result in positive global impacts associated with happiness. Another example is women’s acceptance of positive stereotypes related to benevolent sexism resulting in their subjective happiness and well-being.
Demerits of Stereotypes
Stereotype threat happens in several situations subjected to the bias of one being judged depending on their social group. The stereotypical notion is developed when there is a negative attribute associated with members of a particular group. The stereotypical threat has led to a decrease in women’s performance in certain subjects deemed best for men. For instance, women have been stereotyped as not performing well in sciences and mathematics, claiming such subjects are well-done by men (Ambady et al. 401). The performance assumption has threatened women’s involvement in such disciplines since they have the mentality it is meant for men (Silverman). Therefore, individual involvement and performance can be affected by negative stereotypes regardless of whether it is right or wrong.
Stereotype threat has resulted in discrimination of gender in working environments and during role delegation. In the job industry, women have been categorized as less skilled and incapable of handling technical duties. They are assigned easy jobs such as being in charge of the cleaning and kitchen departments. Men are mostly assigned technical and challenging duties with the presumption they can perform better than women in such critical fields. At home, stereotype based on age has made people develop a certain mentality for a particular age group when delegating. Education and income have also been linked with age identity (Allan 50). The negative stereotype in carrier and duties has made women miss several opportunities. Some men have been assigned roles they are not knowledgeable and trained to handle.
Negative stereotype based on race has made colored people to be associated with wrong practices. In the United States of America, the anti-Asian bias has stereotyped Asians into health and job anxiety groups (Washington post). For instance, in some movies, Blacks play the roles associated with negative attributes such as theft, dishonesty while the Whites play other noble roles such as being the priests or the judge in a court of law. Negative stereotypes on the basis of race have made some Blacks lose their lives in case of riots and violence since they are considered the first suspects.
The negative stereotype has affected social justice in a number of ways. For instance, some colored people have undergone legal mistreatment from the authority due to their race. Justice has been denied in some instances when the victim is Black. Research indicates how police and other security officers have linked certain social problems such as crime with specific races. They have an assumption of generalizing persons from a particular racial group and associating them with certain crimes (Washington post). Such perceptions have resulted in people in authority practicing racial profiling affecting the marginalized group without accuracy and evidence.
Some marginalized groups have developed a fear of filing a case against certain people in a court of law due to their social class. People from the low class in society suffer because they have the perception the justice system will not listen to them when the defendant is from an affluent family. Such a kind plaintiff is demoralized because of the influential stereotype associated with the group of rich people. Also, in a court of law, when the judge presides a case between the Black and White unless laws and moral principles governing the nation are followed, the court can issue a judgment against the Black. Such a biased judgment is from the perception of the Black people being associated with crimes regardless of the facts and accurate proof.
Stereotyping people is a crucial social issue in the current world faced with diversification. The positive stereotype has contributed significantly to the growth and self-enhancement of certain groups. However, categorizing people according to previous experiences based on their gender, race, religion, and other factors can result in impaired judgment if accuracy is not established. For instance, some women can handle technical jobs better than men but due to negative stereotypes, they are dismissed without validation simply because they have been stereotyped to handle less technical assignments. Therefore, it is essential for accuracy to be sought and valid evidence used when evaluating different groups of individuals.
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