What Is A Stereotype

What Is A Stereotype ?

Stereotype is a fixed, commonly held belief, notion or image of specific social groups, or types of individuals.

It is based on standardization or generalization of some observed or imagined trait of behavior or appearance. Stereotype, usually, reflects perceptions that certain groups of people hold about others, who are different from them.Sociologists believe that mental categorizing is necessary and inevitable, to a certain extent. This is probably the reason for stereotyping being as old as human culture itself.

Stereotypes can be considered as positive or negative.  Example of a positive stereotypes can be "black men are good at basketball" and a negative stereotype can be "women are bad drivers". But most stereotypes are intended to make the person feel superior in some way to the person or group being stereotyped. Stereotypes disregard the distinctiveness of individuals by generalizing and thereby standardizing the traits of all members of a group. Certain circumstances can affect the way an individual in stereotyped. For instance, studies have shown that women stereotype more negatively than men, and that women read into appearance more than men.

There are different types of stereotyping. These include the following:

  • Racial and ethnic stereotyping: This further includes Native Americans, Black stereotypes, Middle Eastern and Muslim stereotypes, White American stereotypes, Irish stereotypes,  Italian stereotypes, Polish stereotypes, Jewish stereotypes, East Asian and South Asian Stereotypes and Hispanic or Latino Stereotypes.
  • Gender Stereotypes:  These include Masculine, Feminine and Transgender stereotypes.
  • Sexually oriented stereotypes:  These stereotypes include Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.
  • Socio-economic stereotypes: These are classified as Homeless, Working class and Upper class stereotypes.

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What Is A Stereotype