Stereotypes In The United States
The stratification and separation of groups, especially racial minorities, in the United States began in the nations earliest years of colonization. With the colonists first contact with the Native Americans, the stereotype of the savage was born. The idea of a savage was the framework the colonists used to judge and interpret the Native Americans . As colonization continued in the US, groups were separated into categories like Christians and heathens and civilized and savage . It took merely decades for these attitudes and ideas to firmly plant themselves with the minds of Americans todays stereotypes of Native Americans are rooted in the colonists initial thoughts. The media perpetuates these stereotypes by portraying Native Americans in a negative light, such as savage and hostile . Many Whites view Native Americans as devoid of self control and unable to handle responsibility. Malcolm D. Holmes and Judith A. Antell hypothesize that such ideas about Native Americans form the ideology that is used today to justify the disparity between Whites and Native Americans .
The Psychology Of Gender Roles
The most interesting aspect of gender stereotyping is that it uses certain techniques to influence how we perceive and behave. It does this by guiding our thoughts. We often refer to these techniques as socialization and social influence.Social influence refers to the many different ways society influences us, such as using peer pressure, advertising, or media.
On the other hand, socialization is based on how society shapes the beliefs and values we learn from our parents or relatives. It is usually done through the media or by parents from when we are young, but other people can also do it through education. These techniques can be used positively and negatively, which is often the case. Lets look at how socialization affects how we perceive our gender roles. When we are infants, we have no awareness of our gender.
In some cases, the stereotype can be positive. For instance, society might encourage girls to excel in studies or encourage boys to be responsible. In other cases, the stereotypes are not very nice. For example, we might learn that men are more violent than women or that women are more emotional than men. While all of these examples are not necessarily true, they can still significantly impact how we see ourselves and others around us.
The Good The Bad And The What Of Stereotypes
Need a little break from online classes and quarantine monotony? Not to worry, heres some trivial food for thought! Today, were going to explore the complex subject of stereotypes.
First off, what exactly is a stereotype and why do we use them?
A stereotype is an over-generalised, widely accepted opinion, notion, image or idea about a person, place, or thing. To put it lightly, its a common misconception associated with traits of individuals or groups. According to Simply Psychology, we use stereotypes to simplify our social world and reduce the amount of processing we have to do when meeting a new person by categorising them under a preconceived marker of similar attributes, features, or attitudes that we observe.
Whether youre a freshman settling in your first few weeks of college or a senior soon-to-be wrapping up academic pursuits, you’re definitely no stranger to student stereotypes.
Here are some youll have come across:
Asians are good at Math
Girls are bad drivers
An arts degree is useless
Wearing Glasses = Smart
You go to Taylors? You must be a Bangsar kid then!
Bet some of these stung, right? Or perhaps youre guilty of using them in your daily life?
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Social Classification And Isolation
According to Psychology Today, research shows that stereotypes often pave way for intergroup hostility and toxic prejudices around age, race, and other social distinctions. Social circles can be created based on common stereotypes or shared interests. Especially in a classroom where several stereotypes exist , you expect to stick to people that fit the same bill as yourself but that, in turn, hinders diversity and mixed friend groups. Also what happens if you dont fit in at all with the commonality? What happens when your stereotype does not belong anywhere in the classroom scene? That sets you down the road for isolation and feeling like an outcast.
Theories Of Stereotype Threat
As these examples show, stereotype threat is a very prevalent issue that exaggerates racial and gender disparities in performance, but what is it that actually causes this stereotype threat effect?
In recent adaptations of stereotype threat studies, researchers have connected stereotype threat to the idea of âbelonging uncertaintyâ which undermines an individual’s sense of social acceptance and identity .
Desire for social belonging is a basic human motivation, and members of stigmatized groups may be more uncertain of their social bonds than others.
Therefore, to establish a sense of belonging, individuals may do all they can to avoid the threat of embarrassment or failure that could come from confirming negative stereotypes about their identity.
Consistent with this idea, Inzlichtâs âstigma as ego depletionâ theory further hypothesizes that stigma drains an individuals self-regulatory resources, impairing their performance on following tasks .
In this research, Inzlicht discusses how members of a stigmatized group may have less resources to regulate their actions or behaviors when they feel they are in a threatening or discriminatory environment.
In other words, oneâs cognitive abilities can be thought of as a fuel tank that starts on full, but as people face discrimination or negative stereotypes, that fuel is used up by focusing on doubt or concern over their own abilities.
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How Can We Break Free From Traditional Gender Roles And Stereotypes
A major way of society helping people break free from these traditional gender roles is through education. Instead of learning about gender stereotypes in school, we can learn about the theory of gender identity, which will help us understand what it means to be transgender or non-gender conforming.
It can also help us understand why people might be transgender, which will help us understand them and learn how to accommodate them. The other way we can break the gender stereotype scene is by not following it or by resisting it when we see it happening. For example, suppose a person is assigned male at birth because of their genitals but identifies as female. It is important to understand their situation and make accommodations so that their gender identity will not be questioned. In this way, we can learn to break free from the negative aspects of traditional gender stereotypes.
Racial And Ethnic Stereotyping
- See also: Stereotypes of blacks
Early minstrel shows lampooned the supposed stupidity of Blacks. Detail from cover of The Celebrated Negro Melodies, as Sung by the Virginia Minstrels, 1843
Early minstrel shows lampooned the supposed stupidity of Blacks, movies such as Birth of a Nation questioned whether or not Black people were fit to run for governmental offices or vote. Secretary of StateJohn C. Calhoun arguing for the extension of slavery in 1844 said “Here is proof of the necessity of slavery. The African is incapable of self-care and sinks into lunacy under the burden of freedom. It is a mercy to give him the guardianship and protection from mental death.”
Even after slavery ended the intellectual capacity of Black people was still frequently questioned. Lewis Terman wrote in The measurement of intelligence in 1916
Some regard Jar Jar as a thinly veiled version of the type of portrayals used in minstrelsy to lampoon the supposed stupidity of Black people.
According to Robert M. Entman an Andrew Rojecki, authors of the The Black Image in the White Mind, in television and film Black characters are less likely to be the “the intellectual drivers of its problem solving.” Entman and Rojeki assert that media images of Blacks may have profound effects on the perceptions by both Blacks and Whites about black intellectual potential.
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Epigenetics Blurs The Line Between Nature And Nurture
“Epigenetics” means “on top of” genetics. It refers to external factors and experiences that turn genes “on” or “off.” Epigentic mechanisms alter DNA’s physical structure in utero and across the human life span.
Epigenetics blurs the line between nature and nurture because it says that even after birth, our genetic material isn’t set in stone environmental factors can modify genes during one’s lifetime. For example, cannabis exposure during critical windows of development can increase someone’s risk of neurospsychiatric disease via epigenetic mechanisms.
The Longstanding And Logically Incoherent Emphasis On Stereotype Inaccuracy
Psychological perspectives once defined stereotypes as inaccurate, casting them as rigid , rationalizations of prejudice , out of touch with reality , and exaggerations based on small kernels of truth . These common definitions are untenable. Almost any belief about almost any group has been considered a stereotype in empirical studies. It is, however, logically impossible for all group beliefs to be inaccurate. This would make it inaccurate to believe that two groups differ or that they do not differ.
Alternatively, perhaps stereotypes are only inaccurate group beliefs, and so therefore accurate beliefs are not stereotypes. If this were true, one would first have to empirically establish that the belief is inaccurateotherwise, it would not be a stereotype. The rarity of such demonstrations would mean that there are few known stereotypes. Increasing recognition of these logical problems has led many modern reviews to abandon inaccuracy as a core definitional component of stereotypes .
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How To Fight Stereotype Threat
Given the far-reaching impacts of stereotype threat, there has been much research on how to reduce its effects and help stigmatized populations succeed without fear of discrimination.
For starters, some interventions have shown that simply teaching people about stereotype threat reduces its effect. In one study on womenâs math performance, no significant difference in scores was found between men and women in the condition in which stereotype threat was explained .
This could potentially be due to the idea that teaching people about stereotype threat allows individuals to attribute anxiety and stress to external stereotypes rather than their own internalized doubt.
Additionally, educating students on growth mindset can majorly reduce stereotype threat.
In one study on this intervention, black students who were encouraged to view intelligence as a malleable trait reported greater enjoyment and engagement in academics, and they obtained higher grade point averages than control groups .
Drawing on this growth-mindset theory, self-affirmation interventions have also proven to help fight the effects of stereotype threat. Self-affirmation refers to recognizing and asserting the value of oneself and their abilities. In one study of this technique by Cohen and colleagues, black students were assigned a brief, in-class writing assignment reaffirming their personal adequacy.
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How Are Inherited Traits Measured
Heritability describes the influence that genes have on human characteristics and traits. It’s measured on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0. Very strong heritable traits like someone’s eye color are ranked a 1.0.
Traits that have nothing to do with genetics, like speaking with a regional accent, rank a zero. Most human characteristics score between a 0.30 and 0.60 on the heritability scale, which reflects a blend of genetics and environmental factors.
Thousands of years ago, ancient Greek philosophers like Plato believed that “innate knowledge” is present in our minds at birth. Every parent knows that babies are born with innate characteristics. Anecdotally, it may seemlike a kid’s “Big 5” personality traits were predetermined before birth.
From a “nature” perspective, the fact that every child has innate traits at birth supports Plato’s philosophical ideas about innatism. However, personality isn’t set in stone. Environmental “nurture” factors can change someone’s predominant personality traits over time. For example, being exposed to the chemical lead during childhood may alter personality.
In 2014, a meta-analysis of genetic and environmental influences on personality development across the human life span found that people change with age. Personality traits are relatively stable during early childhood but often change dramatically during adolescence and young adulthood.
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Causes And Development Of Stereotypes:
Stereotypes develop in the same manner attitude and prejudices develop. Social learning and social perception, group norms and reference groups play a tremendous role in the development of stereotypes.
Stereotype is, thus, purely acquired and is solely influence by socio-cultural conditioning. Stereotypes are also based on remours, stories, anecdotes and sometimes actual experience has tremendous additive value in the formation and development of stereotypes.
From the personal point of view stereotypes may have an unconscious self reference. Thus, Allport says that one may imagine his own qualities in a group and hate the group because he is in conflict over the same qualities in himself. Bird says that stereotypes originate more due to the feelings and emotions of the individual with less emphasis in the characteristics of the stimulating circumstances.
Once a girl told her Mummy Mummy a woman wants to see you Mummy retorted do not say woman, say lady. The small girl replied But Mummy she is a scheduled caste and you always call them woman? This shows how stereotypes grow due to social learning and imitation.
In the great blooming budging confusion of the outer world, we pick up what our culture has already defined for us and we tend to perceive that which we have picked up in the form of stereotypes for us by our culture.
Our perception consists of two types of objects:
Perception of natural object
But we learn from others how to perceive the social objects.
Some Situations In Which Stereotype Threat Can Be Triggered
· A person has is the only, or one of a few, members of an SG in a larger group. For example, being the only black person in a room full of people may trigger Stereotype threat. Sekaquaptewa, D., & Thompson, M. . Solo status, stereotype threat, and performance expectancies: Their effects on women’s performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 68-74.
- A person is a member of an SG, and a stereotype about that SG is brought to salience. For example, filling out a questionnaire highlighting ones race or gender prior to taking a test may be enough to trigger stereotype threat. Shih, M., Pittinsky, T. L., & Ambady, N. . Stereotype susceptibility: Identity salience and shifts in quantitative performance. Psychological Science, 10, 80-83.
- A person is a member of an SG is being assessed, and the assessor is not a member of the SG. For example, women perform better on math tests when their proctors are female than when their proctors are male. Marx, D. M., & Roman, J. S. . Female role models: Protecting women’s math test performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1183-1193
- A person is a member of an SG is being assessed, and the assessment is one that members of that SG tend to underperform on. This is a widely replicated result. The first paper to study this phenomenon was: Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. . Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 797-811.
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Important Studies On Stereotypes:
Due to the tremendous importance of stereotypes in social life several psychologists have been attracted to the study on stereotypes. A few of the available important studies are briefly discussed here.
Goring made a study on the photograph of criminals and judgement of artists and found that the artists judgement of criminals was influenced by his idea of criminals. Shereman found a negative correlation between high eye brow and scholastic achievement.
Rice made a classical study on the effect of stereotype on human judgement, Results indicated that the stereotypes may distort or direct human judgement but are not necessarily false. Katz and Barly studied the racial and national stereotypes of college students. Katz and Barely made a famous study on the stereotypes of college students.
They have a list of 84 traits to American college students which they had obtained from the students themselves on a previous occasion and instructed each subject to select 5 traits they considered typical of the various national groups.
Findings of the study indicated a relatively high degree of consistency among the students in assigning traits to various national groups. 84% viewed that Negroes were superstitious and 75% asserted that they were lazy.
When some people do not like a particular group or community due to whatever reasons and experiences, they start building up a social distance towards them. This social distance interacts in the pictures in our mind about that group.
Key Takeaways: Stereotype Threat
- When people worry that their behavior might confirm a stereotype about a group they are part of, they experience stereotype threat.
- Researchers have suggested that the stress of experiencing stereotype threat can potentially reduce ones score on a standardized test or grade in a challenging course.
- When people are able to reflect on an important valuea process called self-affirmationthe effects of stereotype threat are attenuated.
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Stereotyping Is Not Limited To Those Who Are Biased We All Use Stereotypes All The Time They Are A Kind Of Mental Shortcut
Psychologists once believed that only bigoted people used stereotypes. Now the study of unconscious bias is revealing the unsettling truth: We all use stereotypes, all the time, without knowing it. We have met the enemy of equality, and the enemy is us.
Mahzarin Banaji doesn’t fit anybody’s ideal of a racist. A psychology professor at Yale University, she studies stereotypes for a living. And as a woman and a member of a minority ethnic group, she has felt firsthand the sting of discrimination. Yet when she took one of her own tests of unconscious bias. “I showed very strong prejudices,” she says. “It was truly a disconcerting experience.” And an illuminating one. When Banaji was in graduate school in the early 1980s, theories about stereotypes were concerned only with their explicit expression: outright and unabashed racism, sexism, anti-Semitism. But in the years since, a new approach to stereotypes has shattered that simple notion. The bias Banaji and her colleagues are studying is something far more subtle, and more insidious: what’s known as automatic or implicit stereotyping, which, they find, we do all the time without knowing it. Though out-and-out bigotry may be on the decline, says Banaji, “if anything, stereotyping is a bigger problem than we ever imagined.”
THE UNCONSCIOUS COMES INTO FOCUS
PREDISPOSED TO PREJUDICE
WHERE DOES BIAS BEGIN?
WHY CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?