Causes of Stereotypical Perceptions and Judgements
Stereotypes are defined as ideas and beliefs, whether positive or negative, that are held by a person as true concerning the characteristics of a certain group. Most of the time stereotypes occur in the form of prejudices, which are unjustifiable negative beliefs and attitudes towards a certain group of people (Stangor). Stereotyping and especially prejudice normally occurs among members of different groups and backgrounds. This is because similarity is a prerequisite to liking, hence people from similar backgrounds are more likely to get along than those from culturally diverse backgrounds and it is thus easier to form prejudices towards those of different backgrounds (Stangor). Understanding the reasons for stereotyping is thus pertinent in these current times as today’s culture is increasingly becoming more and more diverse due to increasing levels of integration among people. Furthermore, while it was believed that only the rigid and bigoted used and believed in stereotypes, more recent studies are showing that more people use stereotypes, even without knowing it or meaning to (Paul). This unsettling truth makes the topic of stereotypes, their causes and effects, a very important and relevant subject to dwell upon.
Stereotypes are sometimes formed due to inability or unwillingness to obtain all relevant information or circumstances concerning a group of people or situation and this more often than not leads one to come to an inaccurate conclusion (“Stereotypes And Prejudices |”). If a woman, for example, walking home from work sees a group of young men in leather jackets, maybe of the same color, she would feel unsafe, assuming that the young men were members of a gang when maybe they were students from a particular campus wearing clothing affiliated to their school. Stereotypes normally come about due to the experiences that people go through. These experiences might be first-hand, or things we’ve read about in written media, watched on television or even related to us from friends and relatives. Whereas some instances of stereotype may be accurate, most people end up creating prejudices as they pass judgement upon others without being in possession of all the facts needed to make a proper evaluation (“Stereotypes And Prejudices |”).
Furthermore, stereotypes could come about due to fear of people belonging to certain minority groups. It is assumed, for example, that mentally ill people are normally violent. It is, however, proved that mentally handicapped people are no more prone to violence than people without any form of mental handicap. Again, this assumption is brought about mainly by the media. There are many cases which are documented concerning people with mental handicaps being violent. However, the fact is that such people form but a small fraction of the total population of the mentally handicapped (“Stereotypes And Prejudices |”).
The tendency of people to entertain and exercise prejudices has led to grave societal problems, one of which is discrimination, which causes so many negative effects despite its prevalence wherever it’s practiced (Stangor). Discrimination occurs when people are treated differently, based on the perceptions and beliefs of those around them (“Stereotypes And Prejudices |”). It would be difficult for former convicts, for example, to be employed by any firm as people are afraid of them, despite the possibility that they could have turned over a new leaf. Racism is also another social evil brought about by accepting stereotypes. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the position of there being no psychological difference between races, recent history tells of those who rejected this fact. Adolf Hitler, and his Nazi party, believed that Germans were a superior race and deserved to dominate. They also believed the Jews to be an inferior race and deserved to be exterminated. Racism also prompted white legislators to enact segregationist policies leading to the exploitation and oppression of the African American for decades.
Stangor, Charles. “11. Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination | Principles of Social Psychology – 1St International Edition.” Opentextbc.Ca, 2017, https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/part/chapter-12-stereotypes-prejudice-and-discrimination/. Accessed 3 November 2017
Paul, Annie Murphy. “Where Bias Begins: The Truth About Stereotypes.” Psychology Today, 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199805/where-bias-begins-the-truth-about-stereotypes. Accessed 3 November 2017
“Stereotypes And Prejudices |.” Remember.Org, 2017, http://remember.org/guide/history-root-stereotypes. Accessed 3 November 2017