The ABC News magazine program 20/20 just had an interesting piece on the psychology of stereotypes. The main point was that all people have an underlying psychological architecture of stereotypes and that human beings are biologically set up to stereotype. To me, there are several important factors to go with any discussion of stereotypes.

First, how do stereotypes help us? Most of it can be viewed as the ability to quickly categorize people based on certain factors as a way to identify threats, friends, and other people that you can interact with socially. Furthermore, the mental energy it would take for each person you encounter to be processed from scratch without some of the shortcuts that stereotypes provide us would almost debilitate us and make life extremely difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, these networks can contain negative information associated with certain groups that we apply to individuals in those groups that do not actually possess those characteristics.

Second, understanding the stereotypes you hold of others is key in avoiding them getting in your way and resulting in discrimination, prejudice, and unfair assumptions. For exmaple, if you hold a view that ALL men or ALL women are prone to be unfaithful in relationships, then it is important acknowledge that you hold this belief on some level, reality test it, and avoid it becomming a problem that works unconsciously.

The overall message here is that we all have biases, assumptions, and stereotypes for all sorts of people: Caucasian, male, midwestern, tall, thin, pretty, uneducated, wealthy, dog owner, athletes, etc. Acknowledging that these exist, exploring their content, and working through any unfair elements can be a key part to becomming a more competent person socially and psychologically.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 1 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Sep 2006
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Meek, W. (2006). Everyone Has Stereotypes. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/09/15/everyone-has-stereotypes/

 

Recent Comments
  • Chet Bush: Thank you Professor Betsy Hoza for your ‘much needed Study on the ‘impotence of...
  • Lucy: Hi Shawna – you really need to get away from your father. You also need to realise that nothing he says...
  • kazchaz: This is helpful, very much so and it would be great to hear from you again, with updates on your progress,...
  • sambo: I really need some help im so depressed and anxious I cant work or leave the house im on antidepressants and...
  • Concerned: My father was a narcissist. He basically ruined my mother’s life and she ended up dying young of...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 15153
Join Us Now!