Stereotypes are characteristics imposed upon groups of people because of their race, nationality, and sexual orientation. These characteristics tend to be oversimplifications of the groups involved and, even if they seem "positive," stereotypes are harmful.
Even when framed as "positive," stereotypes of certain groups have negative effects. An example of this is the myth of the " model minority " that has attached itself broadly to people of Asian descent. While all stereotypes are generalizations, not all generalizations are stereotypes.
Stereotyping can serve cognitive functions on an interpersonal level, and social functions on an intergroup level. Yzerbyt argued that the cognitive functions of stereotyping are best understood in relation to its social functions, and vice versa. Stereotypes can help make sense of the world. They are a form of categorization that helps to simplify and systematize information.
Thus, information is more easily identified, recalled, predicted, and reacted to. Between stereotypes, objects or people are as different from each other as possible. Gordon Allport has suggested possible answers to why people find it easier to understand categorized information. Second, categorized information is more specific than non-categorized information, as categorization accentuates properties that are shared by all members of a group.
Third, people can readily describe objects in a category because objects in the same category have distinct characteristics. Finally, people can take for granted the characteristics of a particular category because the category itself may be an arbitrary grouping.
A complementary perspective theorizes how stereotypes function as time- and energy-savers that allow people to act more efficiently. In the following situations, the overarching purpose of stereotyping is for people to put their collective self their in-group membership in a positive light: . As mentioned previously, stereotypes can be used to explain social events. Therefore, according to Tajfel,  Jews were stereotyped as being evil and yearning for world domination to match the anti-Semitic 'facts' as presented in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
People create stereotypes of an outgroup to justify the actions that their in-group has committed or plans to commit towards that outgroup. This stereotype was used to justify European colonialism in Turkey, India, and China. An assumption is that people want their ingroup to have a positive image relative to outgroups, and so people want to differentiate their ingroup from relevant outgroups in a desirable way. People can actively create certain images for relevant outgroups by stereotyping.
Stereotypes can emphasize a person's group membership in two steps: Stereotypes emphasize the person's similarities with ingroup members on relevant dimensions, and also the person's differences from outgroup members on relevant dimensions. A person can embrace a stereotype to avoid humiliation such as failing a task and blaming it on a stereotype. Stereotypes are an indicator of ingroup consensus. John C. Turner proposed in  that if ingroup members disagree on an outgroup stereotype, then one of three possible collective actions follow: First, ingroup members may negotiate with each other and conclude that they have different outgroup stereotypes because they are stereotyping different subgroups of an outgroup e.
Second, ingroup members may negotiate with each other, but conclude that they are disagreeing because of categorical differences amongst themselves. Accordingly, in this context, it is better to categorise ingroup members under different categories e.
Finally, ingroup members may influence each other to arrive at a common outgroup stereotype. Different disciplines give different accounts of how stereotypes develop: Psychologists may focus on an individual's experience with groups, patterns of communication about those groups, and intergroup conflict. As for sociologists, they may focus on the relations among different groups in a social structure. They suggest that stereotypes are the result of conflict, poor parenting, and inadequate mental and emotional development.
Once stereotypes have formed, there are two main factors that explain their persistence. First, the cognitive effects of schematic processing see schema make it so that when a member of a group behaves as we expect, the behavior confirms and even strengthens existing stereotypes.
Second, the affective or emotional aspects of prejudice render logical arguments against stereotypes ineffective in countering the power of emotional responses. Correspondence bias refers to the tendency to ascribe a person's behavior to disposition or personality, and to underestimate the extent to which situational factors elicited the behavior.
Correspondence bias can play an important role in stereotype formation. For example, in a study by Roguer and Yzerbyt participants watched a video showing students who were randomly instructed to find arguments either for or against euthanasia. The students that argued in favor of euthanasia came from the same law department or from different departments.
Results showed that participants attributed the students' responses to their attitudes although it had been made clear in the video that students had no choice about their position. Participants reported that group membership, i. Law students were perceived to be more in favor of euthanasia than students from different departments despite the fact that a pretest had revealed that subjects had no preexisting expectations about attitudes toward euthanasia and the department that students belong to.
The attribution error created the new stereotype that law students are more likely to support euthanasia. Nier et al. Participants listened to descriptions of two fictitious groups of Pacific Islanders , one of which was described as being higher in status than the other. Subjects who scored high on the measure of correspondence bias stereotyped the poor, women, and the fictitious lower-status Pacific Islanders as incompetent whereas they stereotyped the wealthy, men, and the high-status Pacific Islanders as competent.
The correspondence bias was a significant predictor of stereotyping even after controlling for other measures that have been linked to beliefs about low status groups, the just-world hypothesis and social dominance orientation. The underlying reason is that rare, infrequent events are distinctive and salient and, when paired, become even more so.
The heightened salience results in more attention and more effective encoding , which strengthens the belief that the events are correlated. In the intergroup context, illusory correlations lead people to misattribute rare behaviors or traits at higher rates to minority group members than to majority groups, even when both display the same proportion of the behaviors or traits.
Black people , for instance, are a minority group in the United States and interaction with blacks is a relatively infrequent event for an average white American. Since both events "blackness" and "undesirable behavior" are distinctive in the sense that they are infrequent, the combination of the two leads observers to overestimate the rate of co-occurrence.
In a landmark study, David Hamilton and Richard Gifford examined the role of illusory correlation in stereotype formation. Subjects were instructed to read descriptions of behaviors performed by members of groups A and B. Negative behaviors outnumbered positive actions and group B was smaller than group A, making negative behaviors and membership in group B relatively infrequent and distinctive.
Participants were then asked who had performed a set of actions: a person of group A or group B. Results showed that subjects overestimated the frequency with which both distinctive events, membership in group B and negative behavior, co-occurred, and evaluated group B more negatively.
This despite the fact the proportion of positive to negative behaviors was equivalent for both groups and that there was no actual correlation between group membership and behaviors. Hamilton and Gifford's distinctiveness-based explanation of stereotype formation was subsequently extended. One explanation for why stereotypes are shared is that they are the result of a common environment that stimulates people to react in the same way.
The problem with the 'common environment' is that explanation in general is that it does not explain how shared stereotypes can occur without direct stimuli. Another explanation says that people are socialised to adopt the same stereotypes. If stereotypes are defined by social values, then stereotypes only change as per changes in social values.
Studies emerging since the s refuted the suggestion that stereotype contents cannot be changed at will. Those studies suggested that one group's stereotype of another group would become more or less positive depending on whether their intergroup relationship had improved or degraded. According to a third explanation, shared stereotypes are neither caused by the coincidence of common stimuli, nor by socialisation. This explanation posits that stereotypes are shared because group members are motivated to behave in certain ways, and stereotypes reflect those behaviours.
This explanation assumes that when it is important for people to acknowledge both their ingroup and outgroup, they will emphasise their difference from outgroup members, and their similarity to ingroup members.
They are also known to form and maintain them. The dual-process model of cognitive processing of stereotypes asserts that automatic activation of stereotypes is followed by a controlled processing stage, during which an individual may choose to disregard or ignore the stereotyped information that has been brought to mind.
A number of studies have found that stereotypes are activated automatically. Patricia Devine , for example, suggested that stereotypes are automatically activated in the presence of a member or some symbolic equivalent of a stereotyped group and that the unintentional activation of the stereotype is equally strong for high- and low-prejudice persons.
Words related to the cultural stereotype of blacks were presented subliminally. During an ostensibly unrelated impression-formation task, subjects read a paragraph describing a race-unspecified target person's behaviors and rated the target person on several trait scales. Results showed that participants who received a high proportion of racial words rated the target person in the story as significantly more hostile than participants who were presented with a lower proportion of words related to the stereotype.
This effect held true for both high- and low-prejudice subjects as measured by the Modern Racism Scale. Thus, the racial stereotype was activated even for low-prejudice individuals who did not personally endorse it. Subsequent research suggested that the relation between category activation and stereotype activation was more complex. They argued that if only the neutral category labels were presented, people high and low in prejudice would respond differently.
In a design similar to Devine's, Lepore and Brown primed the category of African-Americans using labels such as "blacks" and "West Indians" and then assessed the differential activation of the associated stereotype in the subsequent impression-formation task.
Black people face both positive and negative stereotypes in Hollywood. Instead, these characters function to help White characters overcome adversity.
The number of television programs and films featuring Black women as selfless maids perpetuates this stereotype. These stereotypes are arguably as positive as it gets for Black characters in Hollywood. Latinos may be the largest minority group in the United States, but Hollywood has consistently portrayed Hispanics very narrowly. Viewers of American television shows and films, for example, are far more likely to see Latinos play maids and gardeners than lawyers and doctors.
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