Stereotyping in Society

Stereotyping are the organizational factors that virtually shape the way we think in 21st century America. They somehow manage to categorize some of life’s most complex matters into nice distinct sections. Classifications and organization, at first glance seem to be useful in distinguishing various aspects of modern life. However, these grouping methods can be very inaccurate, leaving flawed ideas in the minds of citizens on a global level. Stereotypes, though originating as convenient sorting mechanisms, instead, influence our thinking process (Lane 42-43). By instituting broad categories, establishing virtually immovable terms, and, often, being mistakenly identified as facts, stereotypes affect the mental process of humans.
Different sets of people do have unique characteristics common to the group. While it is not politically correct to point them out or speak of them, it is still the truth. Stereotyping has been used so negatively in the past we are fearful to acknowledge the obvious. Part of the problem is our tendency to judge people based on group membership. Yet, it is a denial of the truth and the obvious when we judge, there are reasons for stereotyping.
Originally used as an organizational tool, stereotypes were simply broad generalizations about subject matters. These ideas were not necessarily meant to cause the feelings of anger that they do today, but to classify ideas. However, possibly the most apparent problem with stereotypes is that they sort very intricate subject matter into large, broad categories. For example, human beings are too complex to use generalizations like, “all blondes are dumb” or “all smart people are nerds.” Stereotypes use wide terms, to simplify subject matter, but this attempt often ends in an inaccurate result (23). Despite their wide generalizations, stereotypes establish virtually immovable terms. For example, Third World countries were hastily grouped together not because of social or economic similarities, but out of convenience. Since that time, the industrialized nations have harbored the stereotype that the third world is land of starving children and savage tribes. Despite decades of vast improvement, this stereotype remains unchanged. This rigid stereotype has caused many citizens to embrace a false view of the Third World nations and its citizens.
One psychological reason for stereotypes is the idea of self-justification. If we treat someone badly, the person deserves it by virtue of their status; if we deny a job to someone, it is not bad because they really are not very smart anyways. Another reason for stereotyping is the feelings of superiority, especially in times of economic downturn. It is nice to have a group worse off than we are so that we can feel superior. Some smaller reasons for stereotyping are displaced aggression, personality needs, conformity and the economic and social competition (43). We have a pressure to structure our environment, to match patterns, to force a fit as needed. We do this for efficiency and to avoid the anxiety of not getting a fix. We use uncritical judgments thousands of times each day.
Stereotypes, clearly, should not be mistaken for accurate information. Although there may be a certain amount of truth to the statement, the generalization is often inaccurate (45). Stereotyping is not necessarily an intentional act of abuse. It is, in most cases, merely a process we use to simplify our world around us. Stereotypes are not all bad. We could have a stereotype that is positive, like thinking that rich people like the opera more than middle-class or lower-class people. To the extent that the stereotype is based on experience and is at all an accurate perception of an experience, it can be an adaptive, shorthand way of dealing with complex events.
Unfortunately, many people believe this information to be not only truthful, but also factual. Since most Americans have not visited a Third World country, they believe many misconceptions to be true. In reality, these stereotypes are often wrong (51). They may apply in some instances, but they should not be considered factual. Stereotypes also work, to some extent, like self-fulfilling prophecy. When we meet someone for whom we have stereotyped ideas, we look for indications of behavior that confirm our notions and disregard all behavior that disagrees with our notions (52). Therefore, our prophecy about what they are like is confirmed. The