Which Stereotypes Can Lead to Discrimination?

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Stereotypes, such as the belief that certain people possess less intellectual capacities than others do or are otherwise inferior, may lead to discrimination. Stereotypes include positive and negative attributes, but only negative stereotypes generally lead to bias and discrimination. Discrimination ultimately results in treating individuals or groups unfairly based on perceived differences and inferiority.

In addition to positive stereotypes, such as viewing people of certain races and ethnic groups superior in areas like athletics, musical ability and academics, neutral stereotypes do not necessarily lead to discrimination. Neutral stereotypes include perceived differences of other individuals, but do not carry a positive or negative connotation.

On the other hand, negative stereotypes, such as perceiving others of certain races or genders inherently less skilled or capable, often lead to discrimination. An example of discrimination based on stereotypes expresses in the belief that African-American children have a low level of intellectual capacity. Therefore, society invests less time and money educating those students than students of other races, such as Caucasians. Another example is an employer refusing to hire workers on the basis of religion, gender or ethnicity. Stereotypes may lead to discrimination as does prejudice, which is a negative view of certain groups, such as foreigners and the elderly.