What Are The Sociological Effects Of Stereotyping?


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There can be numerous effects of stereotyping, with much dependent on the actual content of the stereotype. For example, Asians have been stereotyped as the "model minority," meaning that they are perceived to be very intelligent, overzealous students/workers. The problem with this particular stereotype is that individuals who do not meet such high expectations can experience very negative feelings about themselves, even though they may be of average, or even above average, intelligence. African American men are often stereotyped as being lazy or difficult to work with, therefore they may be passed over for employment opportunities or promotions at work. Black women, on the other hand, are often portrayed as hyper-sexual - here, the problem is that they are eroticized and/or treated as if they are down for sex with anybody at anytime. There is also a phenomenon called 'sterotype threat' where an individual's academic performance is negatively affected by the unrealistic pressure an individual feels to "not perform" like others of his or her racial/ethnic group or gender.

Stereotypes are very interesting, though. They are so prevalent because we, as humans, all have a cognitive tendency to categorize others into either our in-group or out-group. Some would say that these categorizations, though natural, set the stage for inequities between/among groups because humans also have a natural inclination to give preference to those people like ourselves (in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, etc). While this argument surely sounds logical for understanding inequities in the workplace, it is difficult to apply to stereotypes such as the one just mentioned about black women - stereotypes such as these are rooted in historical inequalities and are much more complex in both their origins and their effects on an individual's psyche.

In short, and though the following list is in no way exhaustive, stereotypes may: Influence an individual's choice in friends, romantic partners, co-workers, and even neighbors; lead an individual to feel bad about him or herself by lowering self-esteem; affect an individual's performance in an academic setting; exacerbate tension among workgroups; give rise to divisive relations among indivuduals who share a common characteristic (such as race) but differ in terms of their class background; and in extreme circumstances, they may lead to violence.

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