Psychological Effects of Stereotyping

Written by laurie anderson
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Psychological Effects of Stereotyping
Racial stereotypes often create barriers and defensive behaviour between different ethnic groups. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stereotyping is a common form of discrimination, and can be detrimental to those who experience it. People are often generalised and labelled based on gender, age, ethnicity, religion or any other factor in their identity. This can make stereotyped persons feel unfairly judged for reasons beyond their control, and their feelings on this matter can permanently alter their view of themselves and the human race.

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Performance

A stereotyped person will perform differently on certain tasks when they realise others are stereotyping them. For instance, a shorter person who knows that taller people are stereotypically better at basketball may not perform well at this particular sport due to a negative connotation between basketball and her own stature. When a person is expected to perform in a specific manner because of a stereotype, his views on his own performance and the task at hand are negatively influenced.

Reinforced Behavior

A person's behaviour is often influenced by what others expect them to do. For example, a waitress who holds a negative belief that African-Americans tip poorly may provide lower quality service to an African-American family. As a result, the family may indeed leave this waitress a meagre tip, not because of their race but because they received poor service. The people being stereotyped in this situation may be aware of their server's discrimination, and feel a subconscious sense of justice in reinforcing it, thus perpetuating the stereotype cycle.

Self-esteem

Being stereotyped can deeply affect a person's view of herself. For instance, an overweight woman who is jokingly told not to eat too much upon arriving at a party may feel self-conscious throughout the event and afterward. A Muslim who is more aggressively searched at an airport terminal may feel undeserved anger and shame toward himself and his religion. A person's self-worth is influenced by how others treat them. In the wake of stereotypes, maintaining high self-esteem can be difficult, and many people who have been unfairly stereotyped may have negative views of themselves.

View of Others

A stereotyped person may view others in a negative light. Often someone who is stereotyped repeatedly throughout their lifetime will become more aggressive and hostile toward people they encounter. These people may develop a bitter outlook on society, often assuming that others will discriminate against them right away and becoming defensive at the slightest inclination of a stereotype.

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