ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Truth about Overgeneralization

Updated on June 24, 2019
Charles Emerenwa profile image

Brian is an aspiring writer that seeks to inform and educate the public through informative and educational pieces from various categories.

The Truth about Overgeneralization

Do you ever find yourself being biased at times when faced with a certain situation or person?

Have you ever noticed the tendency to generalize or even overgeneralize unnecessarily and take things out of context?

Source

Generalization is basically a broad statement about a group of people or things; it states that the person or things in question share something in common. It is, in fact, a means of extending the characteristics of a number of elements from a group or class to the entire group. These elements could range from people, animals, objects, and even events.

Universal proposition based on a particular fact is called generalization and it is an essential component of a wider scientific process. When applied correctly, it helps one to obtain an in-depth grasp of reality and the subject matter in question. On the other hand, overgeneralization is when one applies the concept of generalization in a detrimental manner.

Essentially, when we come into contact with more than a few elements from a category, we generalize that they share the same characteristics and group them together. There is a possibility of reaching a vague and inaccurate conclusion when we extend the characteristics of a number of elements from a group to fit the rest of the group. Overgeneralizing occurs when we select a small sample and use it to represent the entire population.

In order to elaborate it well, let us take a look at an example. For instance, there are 10 members in group Z. The first member, Z1 possess characteristic A. The second member, Z2, also possess characteristic A. Another member, Z3, when examined is found to possess characteristic A as well.

So far, it seems like the members in group Z share the same characteristics. If we believe that all the members of group Z possess characteristics A without examining each member individually to identify if there is any discrepancy, then we are overgeneralizing.

Overgeneralization is an extremely widespread phenomenon in society, very much so if we are dealing with people and emotions are involved. Often times, we fail to recognize that we are being controlled by emotions or past experiences, which makes us form conclusions on the little experience that we think is relevant. For example, we may have an unfavorable experience with a particular group of people from a specific background.

The experience led us to form a general perception that people from the group with similar background behaves and acts in the same way. A good representation of this is in the way we view our Muslim friends as terrorists, which is not fair to the other Muslims, who do not share the beliefs of causing hurt in the name of the religion. This leads to the breakdown of societal peace and destroys faith in humanity.

Another way overgeneralization can cause harm and destruction is when it takes the form of limiting beliefs. You may inhibit your own potential through self-limiting beliefs, whereby you think you will not be able to reach your true potential just because of the way you are, your identity, and the environment you are in. There are people who plant the idea in themselves that success is not for them and it is unattainable because of their origin and background.

The common reason is that they choose to believe that their predecessors were living the same life for countless generations, and they think that it should be the same too for them. This is a form of generalizing without even realizing that it is because of absurd fears and lack of effort in changing their reality.

So how do we avoid overgeneralizing?

Well, since it is a thought process and we have control over it, we can start by paying conscious attention to our thoughts. When we start to realize that we are beginning to pass judgment, we should stop to question its validity by considering the various relevant quantitative or qualitative experience to support the judgment.

As most generalizations stem from our general belief system, we can avoid this by going out to explore the world and gain real experience in order to be able to make sound deductions instead of relying on a set of pre-determined beliefs.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      10 months ago from UK

      My father was a great one for generalization. I have read your article with interest.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)