Stereotype is a phenomenon of social psychology, which is influenced by a number of factors and has a range of effects. When we generalize and consider certain qualities of a particular person characteristic for the whole social group the process is called stereotyping. The nature of stereotypes can be neutral and hostile, however, in most cases they are considered to be an undesirable phenomena as they refutes the individuality and uniqueness of every person.
Are stereotypes stable?
The answer to this question is definitely “yes”. Stereotypes show relative stability, which is reflected in following:
- The person is likely to get a perception which he or she expects to have. For example, if you are told that your new mathematics teacher is demanding you will expect him or her to be so and will prepare to the lessons better if you are eager to get good marks.
- People are remembering the examples, which prove stereotypes, and are likely to ignore those which disprove them. The instances, which show uncharacteristic features of the stereotype, are typically ignored and taken as exceptional ones.
What are the functions of stereotypes?
Stereotypes possess a range of functions, which appear to be really essential:
- When people come across a new individual or event they will manage the information quicker with having set of assumptions about a certain social group.
- Additionally, stereotypes have an organizational function: they help to structure the experiences from past events.
- The third function is assessing. With the help of stereotypes people are able to evaluate differences between groups and their representatives.
- The predictions are made basing on stereotypes. This is how the person is able to assume what one is up to.
Are stereotypes dangerous?
To a certain extent, stereotyping is a process that brings danger along. The reasons for it are:
- Typically distinctions between social groups are exaggerated due to considering stereotypes.
- People seem not to take into account the arguments, which disprove the stereotype but considering the points that are agreeing with it.
- When much attention is paid to stereotypes we begin to see all representatives of the groups in the same way, without taking their personality into account.
Classification of stereotypes.
Stereotypes can be divided in groups according to different criteria. Here is one of the most common classifications:
- Ethnic stereotypes: they are based on the ethnic background of a person;
- National stereotypes: these ones are similar to the group of ethnic stereotypes but make assumption on the basis of a person’s nationality;
- Gender stereotype: the phenomena is connected with the concept of gender roles when a representative of a certain gender is supposed to act in a characteristic way, select a particular profession, and express certain views.
- Religious stereotypes are based on the beliefs and traditions of a certain religious group. When a person acts differently than he or she is supposed to he may be considered as a “bad” believer.
- Age stereotypes are those which are grounded in an age of a person and the way of behavior that is characteristics for this age.