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What Are the Causes Of Stereotypes and Stereotyping?

Updated on May 17, 2014
"Stereotyping of Women-Alive and Well"
"Stereotyping of Women-Alive and Well" | Source

Stereotypes basically are widespread, sweeping beliefs/ideas/opinions based on an individual’s experience and is often caused by irrational thinking- thinking that is more efficient for our brains to do. Stereotypes exist in a lot of areas. We can stereotype based on age, race, religion, sexual orientation- all aspects that make up a person, can be stereotyped. Stereotyping is a prominent part of our society and is important for us to research about.

Stereotyping, to us, is useful because we like to organize our thoughts by structuring and grouping our ideas. This makes thinking for us efficient. Stereotypes clear haziness, allowing us to determine whether or not we’re in that group- or out of that group. Humans want to understand where they are in relation to others. Due to the complexity of our culture and society, this efficient way of evaluation people and situations is based on our previous experiences, and ideas that we already hold. We are greatly influenced by the ideas of others. Coming up with ideas on our own is too much work for us to do.

What we perceive is often held to be true- whether or not it is. Sensation and perception is different; what is actually happening (what we sense), is not the same as how we perceive what’s happening. Though, we often don’t think about this because our perceptions feel very real to us. It’s our “truth”. Society as a whole can perceive collectively- this is not just at an individual level. These ideas in our culture that we perceive to be true (even though they’re probably NOT true), is relayed to everyone apart of that society and therefore becomes stronger. These ideas can become so strong and prominent, that they’re not easy paradigms to shake. Even if we start seeing something that doesn’t fit our perception (which we already hold to be true), we ignore it.

These observations have over time, become inflexibly categorized, as we have all fallen into this habit of making assessments of people based on stereotypes. Stereotyping is often inaccurate, as we oversimplify what’s real, creating a new reality.

Society places emphasis on the impressions that fit the stereotype and ignore anything that doesn’t fit. Our assumptions and expectations of a group of people can greatly determine how we interpret a situation. What we see and what we hear is affected by what we think we know. It’s a cycle. It’s important to understand that perceptions, as real as they may seem, do NOT correspond to reality.

The way we classify ideas- the way we stereotype, doesn’t say so much about the group of people we stereotype. However, it does say more about the person/people who is doing the stereotyping. There is a way to diminish stereotypes, but it would take a major shift in culture and a lot of paradigms being changed. If we can get past our narrow-minded ideas, and decide to discover and broaden our knowledge, we can work on shifting these stereotypes to at least a more positive light.

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Submit a Comment
  • mariexotoni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago

    thank you everybody- glad you enjoyed :)

  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 

    7 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    It is my highest hope that we can start looking at the individual rather than groups of people. What a wonderful world that will be.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Your last paragraph says it all, really! Our cultural prejudices and ignorance need to change; until that happens, stereotypes will continue.

  • spartucusjones profile image

    CJ Baker 

    7 years ago from Parts Unknown

    Very informative and prevalent hub! As humans most of us (at least unwittingly) have been guilty of stereotyping. That being said stereotypes are not are always accurate and can even be dangerous.


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