A society is composed of different communities and elements. Individuals tend to assign varying general characteristics on different communities or groups of people depending on the individuals’ perspectives. These generalizations are in most cases incorrect of an individual person in a particular group. The ascribing of general behavior to a given group of individuals and the assumption that that particular group is of a particular nature rather than analyzing people as individuals is referred psychologically as stereotyping. (MacRae, Stangor & Hewstone, 1996) For instance, one may tend to generalize that the French are romantic, the Irish are drunkards, and Brazilians are excellent soccer players or that Latinos love drugs.
An individual can procure negative or positive stereotyping of a particular group based on the individual’s understanding or relationship with that particular group. Stereotypes may be at an individual or communal level (Schneider, 2005). At an individual level, consider a particular employer who has the notion that all Latin Americans are Gangsters. This particular individual may fail to employ any individual of Latin American decent due to that particular notion. An individual affected in this way may simply seek employment elsewhere. Communal stereotypes is when the generalized believes about a particular group of people are shared among the individuals in the society. For instance the white community may decide that all rappers are black people and that all rappers are drug dealers. Such kind of stereotype may result to innocent black rappers trying to make a living being victimized by security personnel on the basis that if they are rappers and black, then they must be drug dealers. I have also had such stereotype for a while which was really affecting my relationship with individuals from the African American descent.
There usually a lot of flaws in these generalizations (Schneider, 2005). For instance, an individual cannot just assume that since a lot of drugs are procured from the South American countries that it follows then that all Latin Americans are drug dealers. One would be surprised to discover that in fact there are very few Latin Americas in the drug business. Latin Americans thus should be considered not as a homogenous group but as individuals from South America. The notion that all people who do rap music are blacks is another flawed generalization. There are so many white individuals who are in the music industry as rappers. This generalization becomes a problem when the stereotypes go ahead and say that the blacks who are in the music industry as rappers are either gang members or drug dealers. This is another flawed generalization. The stereotypes say that rappers are gang members and drug dealers, but then they go ahead to specify that not all rappers are, but only those from the African American community.
Women as a group have also been discriminated against in the society as a homogenous group. For many years, women were perceived as only being able to work in at home and act as good house wives. Women were denied leadership positions and various other roles that were considered to be male activities (MacRae, Stangor & Hewstone, 1996). This prejudice led to able women being denied opportunities which they could perform as their male counterparts or even better. This notion is though dying out especially in developed countries though it is still engrained in societies in some less developed countries.
Stereotyping normally develop with time within a given society (Schneider, 2005). A given perception is developed which is then engrained in an individuals’ minds of a particular group to be true of another given group. This perception is then on passed to individual members of the stereotyped group based on the initial common knowledge. The only way stereotyping can be reduced is through social awareness and education.
MacRae, N. C, Stangor. C & Hewstone. M. (1996). Stereotypes and Stereotyping. New York:
Schneider, D. J. (2005). The Psychology of Stereotyping. New York: Guilford Press.