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What is stereotyping?

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Priyanka Shah Professor Hunt HSS 099 24 October 2002 What is stereotyping? "A rigid mental image that summarizes whatever is believed to be typical about a group" (Robertson 1987). It's not as simple as it sounds or as it is used in everyday life. Due to our lack of interest in analyzing and understanding information we utilize the short cut called stereotyping. "Stereotyping is as natural to people as thinking itself" (Longstreet, 1978, p. 10). Life of people has become very complex and difficult and that has led to the increase in misinterpretations and wrong ideas about different groups of people. Stereotypes are inflexible and they are learned quickly from family, friends, coworkers and the media.


They offered scholarships and even participated in many interesting activities for the welfare of women community as a whole. There were only white women in the club. When she showed her interest in being the part of the club, the President of the club tried to off track her and gave all different kinds of meaningless reasons why she couldn't join. Even then she showed her deep interest in joining. Finally, the club president told her that she couldn't join them because they didn't want any Indians in the club. She told her that Indians are mean, shallow and cheaters. They are selfish and don't have any sense of respect or dignity towards other members of the club.


Just because one Indian person is shallow does not mean all are. This incident has changed me a bit. Now when I am with people belonging to other group or community, I become conscious the way I talk or behave. Even if I know that whatever I am doing is right, it gives me a sense of being selfish, shallow or disrespectful. I have lost my confidence a little bit and that affects my work and relations with other people. Stereotyping has understandably earned a bad reputation. It sacrifices the uniqueness of individuals due to narrow imagination. Negative stereotypical ideas of other groups prevent effective communication that lead to prejudice and discrimination. Stereotypes prevent us from accurately perceiving people. So we shouldn't judge a group based on one experience and learn to set aside our own stereotypes.

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