A stereotype is a held popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of “stereotype” and “prejudice” are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions. Theories on stereotypes Different disciplines give different accounts of how stereotypes develop: Psychologists may focus on an individual’s experience with groups, patterns of communication about those groups, and intergroup conflict.
Pioneering psychologist William James cautioned psychologists themselves to be wary of their own stereotyping, in what he called the psychologist’s fallacy. Sociologists focus on the relations among groups and the of different groups in a social structure. Psychoanalytically-oriented humanists have argued (e. g. , Sander Gilman) that stereotypes, by definition, are representations that are not accurate, but a projection of one to another. A number of theories have been derived from sociological studies of stereotyping and prejudicial thinking.
In early studies it was believed that stereotypes were only used by rigid, repressed, and authoritarian people. Sociologists concluded that this was a result of conflict, poor parenting, and inadequate mental and emotional development. This idea has been overturned; more recent studies have concluded that stereotypes are commonplace. One theory as to why people stereotype is that it is too difficult to take in all of the complexities of other people as individuals. Even though stereotyping is inexact, it is an efficient way to mentally organize large blocks of information.
Categorization is an essential human capability because it enables us to simplify, predict, and organize our world. Once one has sorted and organized everyone into tidy categories, there is a human tendency to avoid processing new or unexpected information about each individual. Assigning general group characteristics to members of that group saves time and satisfies the need to predict the social world in a general sense. Another theory is that people stereotype because of the need to feel good about oneself.
Stereotypes protect one from anxiety and enhance self-esteem. By designating one’s own group as the standard or normal group and assigning others to groups considered inferior or abnormal, it provides one with a sense of worth. Some[who? ] believe that childhood influences are some of the most complex and influential factors in developing stereotypes. Though they can be absorbed at any age, stereotypes are usually acquired in early childhood under the influence of parents, teachers, peers, and the media.
Once a stereotype is learned, it often becomes self-perpetuating. Effects, accuracy, terminology Main article: Stereotype threat Stereotypes can have a negative and positive impact on individuals. Joshua Aronson and Claude M. Steele have done research on the psychological effects of stereotyping, particularly its effect on African Americans and women.  They argue that psychological research has shown that competence is highly responsive to situation and interactions with others. 10] They cite, for example, a study which found that bogus feedback to college students dramatically affected their IQ test performance, and another in which students were either praised as very smart, congratulated on their hard work, or told that they scored high. The group praised as smart performed significantly worse than the others. They believe that there is an ‘innate ability bias’. These effects are not just limited to minority groups. Mathematically competent white males, mostly math and engineering students, were asked to take a difficult math test.
One group was told that this was being done to determine why Asians were scoring better. This group performed significantly worse than the control group. :443 Possible prejudicial effects of stereotypes are: * Justification of ill-founded prejudices or ignorance * Unwillingness to rethink one’s attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group * Preventing some people of stereotyped groups from entering or succeeding in activities or fields The effects of stereotyping can fluctuate, but for the most part they are negative, and not always apparent until long periods of time have passed.
Over time, some victims of negative stereotypes display self-fulfilling prophecy behavior, in which they assume that the stereotype represents norms to emulate. Negative effects may include forming inaccurate opinions of people, scapegoating, erroneously judgmentalism, preventing emotional identification, distress, and impaired performance. Stereotyping painfully reminds those being judged of how society views them.
Yet, the stereotype that stereotypes are inaccurate, resistant to change, overgeneralized, exaggerated, and destructive is not founded on empirical social science research, which instead shows that stereotypes are often accurate and that people do not rely on stereotypes when relevant personal information is available. Indeed, Jussim et al. comment that “Ethnic and Gender Stereotypes Are More Valid Than Most Social Psychological Hypotheses”.
Stereotype accuracy is a growing area of study and for Yueh-Ting Lee and his colleagues they have created an EPA Model (Evaluation, Potency, Accuracy) to describe the continuously changing variables of stereotypes. To examine the effect it is important to look at why stereotyping occurs. Essentially a stereotype is a shortcut for out brain to pick up a relevant set of data, psychologists call them heuristics and they your brain process the crazy amount of information you process daily. By “loading” these heuristics or stereotypes into your brain automatically when you engage someone your behaviour and attitude adjust to the situation.
For example you will have a stereotype for “boss”, when you boss greets you you will generally act in a completely different way to how you act when your partner greets you. In this sense stereotypes positively control many aspects of communication, speech, vocab, body language and more, without them every social situation would be as taxing as a new job interview as you would simply not know how to act or what to say. The negative side of stereotypes and heuristics is that negative emotions and connotations (such as fear) which cause largely irrational actions.