Different types of stereotyping

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19 March 2016

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In My essay I will discuss stereotyping and different types of stereotyping. I will discuss how in todays society people are stereotyped in different many ways. In today’s society, there are stereotypes for almost any groups that individuals belong to. At some point in any person’s life, they would have experienced stereotyping. For instance, it is often said that all African Americans are good at basketball, males are more aggressive than females, Lawyers are deceitful, and the list goes on. Stereotypes are so wide spread and used so often that they seem to be a natural behaviour for human beings. (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2008) So, what is stereotyping? Why do we categorize individuals into groups? How do stereotypes form? Are all stereotypes accurate summations of groups? These are some of the questions that are discussed in this essay. The purpose of this essay is to give a clear explanation of stereotyping. There is a discussion of a particular incident of stereotyping, and this incident is applied to theories relating to stereotyping. Finally, comments are given on the effectiveness of the theories of stereotyping.

“Stereotyping is a form of pre judgement that is as prevalent in today’s society as it was 2000 years ago. It is a social attitude that has stood the test of time and received much attention by social psychologists and philosophers alike. Many approaches to, or theories of stereotyping have thus been raised. This essay evaluates the cognitive approach that categorisation is an essential cognitive process that inevitably leads to stereotyping. Hamilton (1979) calls this a ‘depressing dilemma’. “ “The Psychology of Stereotyping David J. Schneider p37”

“Brown’s (1995) definition of stereotyping through prejudice is the ‘holding of derogatory social attitudes or cognitive beliefs, the expression of negative affect, or the display of hostile or discriminatory behaviour towards members of a group on account of their membership to that group’. This definition implies that stereotyping is primarily a group process, through the individuals psyche’s within that group. A further idea of stereotyping, defined by Allport (1954) as ‘thinking ill of others without warrant’, is that people ‘make their mind up’ without any personal experience. This pre judgement about a whole group is then transferred to the stigmatisation of any individuals in that group. It is these ideas that the essay aims to evaluate, through the cognitive process of categorisation and the above definitions that bring about three distinct features of stereotyping, that our cognition can be demonstrated through.”

The New Economic Sociology: Developments in an Emerging Field (edited by Maruo F. Guillen, Randall Collins, Paula England p224,225)”

Media Stereotypes

“Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in the advertising, entertainment and news industries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information. Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people—usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation.” Stereotypes are deeply embedded in every society in numerous ways. The dictionary definition of a stereotype is “one that is regarded as embodying or conforming to a set image or type.” Stereotyping or Labeling is a technique that “attempts to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience fears, hates, loathes, or finds undesirable.” These stereotypes become so cliché that they begin to form daily thoughts and views and one is unable to look beyond them.

Racial stereotypes specifically function mostly through propaganda of the media, due to the unlikelihood of every man travelling to every country, using the technique of ‘misinformation’ through movies, shows, and news reports. Egyptians have been stereotyped as desert residents for many years regardless of the reality and actual state of Egypt as a country. For instance, the stereotypes pointing that Egyptians are mostly uneducated due to their ignorance of the importance of education is proven false by studies of trustworthy sources. Among those studies, the one conducted by the American university in Cairo , Egypt . Al-Ahram weekly, a credible newspaper known all across the Arab world, has posted in its October issue of 1998 the following:

“According to Sahar El-Tawila, the principal researcher on the team, interviews conducted with girls and boys nationwide show conclusively that work and marriage were rarely stated by boys and girls respectively as reasons for leaving school. These may be options for those who have already left school, but they are not the impetus behind their decision to leave” (Al-Ahram 1998).

“Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire By Deborah Starr page 183”

Stereotypes can have excessive damage and it can have a very negative effect on the person in view or as a whole group. Stereotyping is not just another form of making fun of people, it also encourages rejection and outcast. Stereotyping is not only cruel and harmful to people, it can also have major effects on how a person behaves and acts towards other people. It also makes who ever is stereotyping look like a fool. It also forms barriers in communication and everyday life.


To conclude, the cognitive approach alone does not give us an understanding of stereotyping. However, it does anchor the fact that through our ‘natural’ thought processes we do categorise, which leads to stereotyping. It also highlights the importance of the individual and the group. There are, however, problems that have been overlooked by cognitive psychologists which we need to understand, in order to fully understand the ‘changing dynamics and nature of stereotyping in our society’ (Howitt, et al., 1989). There is also the need to look further than the causes of stereotyping and into its effects in order to understand the processes of our thought, of stereotyping.

(Al-Ahram 1998).

The Psychology of Stereotyping David J. Schneider

“The New Economic Sociology: Developments in an Emerging Field (edited by
Maruo F. Guillen, Randall Collins, Paula England p224,225)”

Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire By Deborah Starr

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