How Individuals, Organisations, And The Society Tend To Perceive And Understand Stereotypes In Their Context

Stereotyping concept has trended in the societies and communities for quite a while. Many individuals from diverse backgrounds face stereotyping based on race, age, gender, and demographic groups. However, whatever the grounds, stereotypes can lead to adverse outcomes or consequences. The undesirable results that might come along comprise of different false beliefs and opinions about particular individuals, communication faults, and perceptions that distinct people cannot form great decisions. It is important to note that stereotypes comprise of conservative aspects including attributing characteristics to different social groups, meaning many sources can result in the building of stereotypes. In this case, there will be a focus on how individuals, organisations, and the society tend to perceive and understand stereotypes in their context, and how stereotypes develop.

Stereotypes Conceptualization

According to Datar, a stereotype is an exaggerated belief linked with a category, whereby its function bases itself on justifying our conduct with reflection to such category. About this definition, it can be argued that stereotypes inflate and normalise traits perceived to be physiognomies of defined categories. These kinds of traits develop classifications and generalisations to every person forming a portion of the identified social group. Besides, Rouzzo indicates that social group is definable on the grounds of the criteria number including race, occupation, gender, and age. With the formation of these social groups, then perceptions or beliefs thrive about the attributes, physiognomies, or conduct of persons who belong to such distinct group.

An individual may end up being subject to stereotypes because the perceiver has a familiarity with the general category or group of the one under perception. Nonetheless, those who develop stereotypes do not have sufficient and broadened stereotypes, for instance for all men or all women, but such stereotypes are defined on the grounds of the persons who belong to an established group, such as old individuals or women with particular skin colour. This draws an arguments that the persons with more information available to them about specific individuals might end up using more straightforward stereotypes, compared to persons who place their reliance on the broad stereotypes due to lack of sufficient information.

When developing stereotypes perceptions, people create beliefs that all stereotypes are negative on common grounds, which is not always the case. Sometimes, stereotypes might hold positive, negative, or neutral roots. Considering every individual is unique and different from each other, then there should be no development of assumptions that the real traits, conducts, or physiognomies on the individual under stereotype will coincide with the individual that the stereotype suggests. The kinds of stereotypes directed to groups are termed simple, inaccurate, and inflexible, and they might end up hurting personal or social individual identities. Stereotypes have a damaging outcome, more so if a stereotype does not recognise the distinctions in social groups, and may often result in wrong perceptions and behaviours that are inaccurate towards the target individuals. However, it is vital to note that this does not hold grounds that stereotypes are incorrect but instead a majority of stereotypes have a sense of truth in them. Not all stereotypes base themselves on falsehoods, but instead, some of them have a content holding a defined extent of the truth. Hence, when individuals are developing their stereotypes, they should be keen not to end up being victims of believing that all stereotypes form a clear representation of all persons who belong to a particular social group.

Origin of Stereotypes

From the trending and evolving technology in media coverage for the past few decades, there are chances that mass media is coming along with stereotypes, and it can be the source of the many stereotypes witnessed in this new era. Though the press has not developed stereotypes, modern media has a significant influence on generation and sustenance of stereotyping. There is a lot of stereotyping content and images displayed in the press on a daily basis, and these stereotypical representations might result into prejudice to out-groups, making individuals to have emotional and negative feelings towards people belonging to a defined group.

Moreover, apart from the media, it is likely that stereotypes define their origin from other sources. There is a probability that the individuals in a particular social group might derive their stereotypes from different instances in their lives, hence transforming the manner in which the society perceives them. People can end up creating stereotypes, and explicitly assign characteristics to particular groups of individuals, whom they might have learned from important pillars in the society for instance teachers, peer groups, and parents. Furthermore, parents, family members, and relatives constitute of ground sources of information and end up strengthening and teaching stereotypic perceptions and beliefs to the young ones, and the chances are high that individual might have retained such content in their entire life.

Additionally, social learning theory indicates that individuals learn their social behaviour via direct experience or via observing others. Thus, individuals will have a tendency of upholding such conducts and beliefs for which them or others receive their rewards, and put a termination to those beliefs and conducts that will eventually result into them or others facing the probable outcomes. Through consideration of this theory, individuals in a particular category can end up learning the art of stereotyping others due to their direct experiences with a specific group, or through learning stereotypes from the influence of others. However, by not being reprimanded for stereotyping others, people tend to progress in engaging in stereotyping activities.

Theoretical Approaches

Many researchers have developed stereotypes on homogenous grounds, with the most of inconsistencies emerging when creating stereotype theory. However, among the theories that are well defined and that clarify the existence and function of stereotypes, include the psychodynamic model, realistic group conflict theory, social learning theory, and cognitive theories. Despite the existence of these theoretical models, there is the existence of three core theoretical and methodological approaches dominating stereotype study, whereby there is a definition of each of them on what stereotypes are and the nature of their composition.

One of such approaches comprise the social cognition approach, which focuses on the study of stereotypes at personal levels, and uses laboratory studies. Additionally, there is initial investigation and stereotypes definition of processes such as social perceptions, categorisation, and comparison, all based on prototypes and schemata. Besides, the other tenet comprises of the inter-group relations, that focuses on group level aspect, more so based on ties between group members. This approach constitutes primarily of field studies. In the same method, there is consideration of stereotypes to group membership, social identity, attitudes, and self-esteem, and their interlinkage with discrimination and prejudice turns out to be more salient. Though these two perspectives tend to develop a contradiction to each other, some researchers have ended up ignoring each other.

Nonetheless, the third aspect, the social representation, addresses such contradicting aspect. In this perspective, stereotypes are termed critical social representation constitutions. The study level, in this case, transcends personal or group level. Additionally, there is presuming of cognitive processes as universal, developing a need to study extensively inter-group relations. In such a case, stereotype representations consider simultaneously the social practices and norms linked to culture. Additionally, there is a need to factor social representation approach, which does not merge any interpersonal relations and social cognition.

Types of Stereotypes

Different researchers have developed various kinds of stereotypes that exist in the larger society in which man thrives. One of these types is religious stereotypes, based on the customs and values of minor religions. For individuals in the society who do not involve themselves with such kind of values and norms end up being subject to stereotypes. In some cases, such type of stereotypes exceeds beyond aspects associated with worship, hence presenting the negative part of it. Besides, political stereotypes is another type, whereby the people belonging to a defined political group ends up automatically deriving their thoughts contrary to those of the opposite political group. Under such a situation, any individual who belongs to a political group ends up automatically deriving their distinct thoughts to suit those of the opposite political group.

Furthermore, racial stereotypes base themselves on the culture membership or skin colour. This type of stereotype is subject to positive and negative examination, whereby such an outcome can be from the stated difference. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that when individuals in a particular setup, community, or society have identical aspects linked to culture, race, or colour, chances are meagre that there will be an existence of racial stereotyping. Another vital stereotype is a class stereotype, based on economic status and power. The difference in economic status or power might be a cause of the social stereotypes. The outcome associated with this kind of stereotype is that it bases itself on the interaction of an individual with the society.

Additionally, gender stereotypes have been a core aspect of consideration and focus among many individuals in the society including activists and gender equality and equity educators. A gender stereotype is difficult to change in the society, and it can as well result in unexpected adverse outcomes. For the past several decades, many communities in different regions of the globe have had a different perception of women, whereby all along men have underestimated them. For quite a while, there has been trending stereotypes on men grounding them as unique and with possession of unprecedented capabilities, unlike women.

Nonetheless, with the wake of the new millennium, women have realised their capacities to perform the tasks that men can do, and even deliver them better. Though the society has recognised the aspects linked to the resolution of gender stereotyping, there is still much that is undone as some regions in the globe are subjects to the captivity of negativity due to traditions and cultures that degrade women. Elimination and handling of gender stereotypes in some areas of the world is not an easy go, and there is always a perception that women will never do anything better compared to men. Other types of stereotypes comprise sex and physical stereotypes.

Social Environment of Stereotypes

Many stereotypes are evident in the social environment. In many occurrences, stereotypes link themselves to the social group of an individual. Stereotypes are difficult to change, and they are subject to transfer from generation to generation especially if they are valuable to the people. Some of the frequent contributors to stereotypes in the society comprise of opinion polls, mass media, and conversation networks. There is fueling of stereotypes derived from such occurrences or sources through social memory, via common symbols and traditional rituals. Though stereotypes are not realistic to some extent, they thrive to make people conduct themselves severally with reflection to the categories they at one time, disfavored. Most people tend to hold themselves inadequately with their affiliates when there is threatening of their self-esteem, due to a fear of being subject to stereotypes. This means that for activation of stereotype, facilitation and stimulation by the presentism of some members of the group subjected to stereotypes is essential.

Impact of Stereotypes on the Society

Every individual has some ties and interactions with other people in the society. As a result, individuals are stereotyped and treated differently on how they appear, how they communicate, and where they originate from. Social impact tends to represent the manner in which real and imaginary pressure from people around influence an individual. This aspect might influence how people conduct themselves due to stereotypes, even though they have a knowledge that stereotype is not real. If used to mock or to make people feel they do not belong in a particular environment or are incapable of doing something, it might end up killing their self-motivation, soul, and development. In relation to the same, stereotypes might reduce the success factor of initiatives drawn to benefit and change a bad reputation of a distinct community.

Role of Stereotypes

Cognitive perspective is termed eloquent in demonstrating the contribution of stereotypes to the cognitive economy, hence making people to save critical cognitive resources. When an individual is antagonized with complex social situations, stereotypes are applicable in serving as a quick, effortless, and adaptive response. In such a case, the use of stereotypes in vital as it helps such individual to be a cognitive expert. On the grounds of inter-group relation dimensions, positive stereotypes of in-group and with less positive impact for out-group, makes individuals serve with a focus on protecting and enhancing their positive social identity.Hetero and auto stereotypes place an excellent focus on the construction of individuals’ identity as team members. Additionally, these kinds of stereotypes play an important role in comprehending and justifying particular conducts and attitudes in the case of out-group persons. Hence, stereotypes do not only have a focus on the regulation of distinct inter-group inter-relations, but they form a portion of a broad cultural framework that defines an individual’s conducts in distinct social settings. It is important to note that stereotypes play a vital in making some people feel safe. From these arguments, it is essential to note that stereotypes make people gain a sense of control over their social behaviour. It also enables people to have a reduction of their uncertainty and avoid dangerous occurrences.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stereotypes

Every aspect in the society has its pros and cons, and stereotypes is not an exception. One of the benefits associated with stereotypes is that they are essential when an individual needs to make some sudden changes when they have no time forming an overall impression of every individual who comes along the way. Besides, stereotypes also enable individuals to remember information about other people. Such kind of information can comprise ethical backgrounds, culture, and colour, and religion of distinct people. When people get the useful and exciting part of such information belonging to different people, it is not easy to forget the people on which such information addresses.

Another advantage is that stereotypes make people make a positive response appropriately when meeting new individuals for the first time. In such a case, when the individual is aware of the practices, beliefs, religion, and other related aspects, they can act in the most elegant way when greeting, handling, or meeting a new individual. Moreover, when a person is new in a particular region and makes employment of stereotypes, it is possible to fit in with the people in the new area and feel that they belong. This means that before an individual moves to a new region, it is crucial to consider the study of the people, their culture, practices, beliefs, and their stereotypes among other relations.

On the other hand, one of the disadvantages associated with stereotyping is that it can stop an individual from seeing the real person upon meeting for the first time. This is likely to take place especially is one party had initially heard some stereotypes about the other party, and probably such stereotypes are not good ones. In relation to the same, some stereotypes tend to promote dangerous images. This might result into people developing evil perception about particular individual or group of people, and it might eventually lead to discrimination. Furthermore, stereotypes can result in people making mistakes about others when meeting for the first time, and it might occur if one of the parties makes something pathetic that the other party takes as a stereotype. The other core con of stereotypes takes place when children learn it when still young, and it ends up being difficult to overcome it as they become of age.


Stereotyping is a generalisation form that might end up oversimplifying or exaggerating a group’s practices. Many people make fun of stereotypes, while others take them as negative, but it all depends on the content of the same. Many people in different regions of the globe have come to the real implications that stereotypes might bring along. People will stereotype each other for reasons grounded on culture, religion, politics, gender, and race among others. However, it is essential for people to ensure that the stereotypes they develop do not have a harmful impact of the target party. Though it has some benefits, stereotyping has some negative consequences, which can result in outcomes that are not forthcoming. In this case, therefore, there has been a focus on how individuals, organisations, and the society tend to perceive and understand stereotypes in their context, and how stereotypes develop.

11 February 2020
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