What Are the Effects of Stereotyping?

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The effects of stereotyping impact those being judged and those doing the judging. These effects include negatively impacting happiness, making someone more close-minded, hurting other people and affecting someone’s self-esteem.

What Is a Stereotype? Before exploring the effects of stereotyping, one should know exactly what a stereotype is. It’s defined as an oversimplified and fixed idea or image concerning a specific group or person. A stereotype can be negative or appear to be somewhat positive. For example, one stereotype that people often cite as being a good thing is that Asian people are typically good at math. One that is largely negative is the old “welfare queen” stereotype from the 1980s.

Even if a stereotype appears positive, in psychology and sociology, they are still considered negative. When most people think about stereotypes, they consider those associated with gender or race. However, it’s possible for them to happen just about anywhere. For example, the Cleveland Browns have the stereotype of losing games. In the workplace, a certain department could be deemed “lazy” or “ineffective” compared to other departments.

Storing Stereotypes As psychologists further study unconscious bias, they learn more about who uses stereotypes, how they form and why they exist. One theory is that humans need to feel included and like they are part of something larger. This can lead to identities associated with specific classes and races, for example. As a result, once a person feels accepted by a specific group, he might start to negatively view those who are not a part of it.

Stereotype Threat A stereotype threat is defined as a belief that is self-confirming and can be evaluated via a negative stereotype. For example, if students of a specific race are reminded about negative stereotypes concerning their race before taking a test in school, they are more likely to perform poorly on the exam. This is because thinking about the negative stereotype may make them feel academically inferior compared to their peers of different races. It essentially causes them to experience anxiety that they would not feel otherwise.

Changing Stereotypes There are three models a person might use when working to change stereotypes. The bookkeeping model means that people adapt a stereotype they believed as they learn new information concerning it. For each adjustment, a person typically has to receive an abundance of new evidence that contradicts their initial beliefs about the stereotype.

The subtyping model essentially means that a person creates an additional stereotype associated with one that is pre-existing. For example, the stereotype about Ohioans being laid back and friendly might be skewed if someone goes to Columbus or Cleveland where people are living at a faster pace. The subtype would be about the major city dwellers being different from the preconceived stereotype about Ohioans as a whole.

The conversion model is where someone basically starts over again with a stereotype after ditching an old one. This generally occurs when there is significant evidence to prove the old stereotype wrong.

Before tackling any of the models, an individual must acknowledge that a stereotype exists. One must also be willing to admit that what they have always believed might be wrong.