How Stereotypes Affect Behavior
Stereotypes refer to assumptions or generalizations, which may be made regarding members of a certain group. Stereotypes tend to be based on beliefs about what other people look like, as well as assumptions regarding their behavior. For example, some groups of people may be stereotyped as hostile while others as friendly and welcoming. The qualities assigned to groups of people based on stereotypes tend to relate to their sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, as well as nationality among other factors. Stereotyping may be characterized as discrimination of a group of people which is based on the beliefs held about that group. The stereotypes are formed in different ways, moreover they have an impact on humans’ behavior. This paper will try to explore the formation of stereotypes and the impact it has on behavior.
Various explanations have been developed with the aim to explain how the stereotypes are formed. One of the ways in which stereotypes are formed is through experiences. Such experiences encompass encounters, which tend to generalize the behavior portrayed by a certain group of people. People create stereotypes from their own experiences or from others such as parents, relatives, peers, as well as teachers and mentors. The other way in which stereotypes are formed is through negative attitudes towards a group that a person hates and the need to justify such attitudes. For example, when a person does not like some people, he or she may develop some negative attitudes towards such people, which may eventually lead to stereotyping. In most cases, it is common to have negative attitudes towards enemies and people who may be detested. Eventually, it results into stereotypes since negative feelings towards other people can be treated as stereotyping (Macrae 67).
Another way in which stereotypes may be formed is through power struggles with people from other groups. People tend to treat members of the out-group with little respect, and they can be looked down upon, unlike members of the in-group. Evidently, this leads to stereotypes since a person may discriminate other people who do not belong to their own group. This may be the case when people realize that a certain group threatens the existence of the group to which they belong. Negative representations of a group may result when two groups compete to achieve some objectives and the goals of the groups cannot be compatible. Thus, even without any knowledge that exists about a group, stereotypes may develop. Stereotypes formed out of power struggles serve to affirm the position and behavior patterns of a certain group (Whitley and Mary 150).
The formation of stereotypes also emanates from the need to categorize the world and what can be seen in it. Human beings have the desire to create categories and group people according to these categories. Therefore, it leads to the formation of stereotypes since categorizing people contributes to the classification of people as exhibiting some forms of unacceptable behavior. Stereotypes are also formed from the experiences that one may have with a single member of another group. In such a situation, the behavior exhibited by a person from another group may be generalized to the entire group. Stereotypes can also be formed through coming across people from other groups who have unique behaviors. When one comes across other groups having strange behavior, there is a tendency to stereotype the behavior patterns of such people (Bernstein 560).
The formation of stereotypes can also take place when there is an inability to access adequate information about other groups. As a result, it becomes challenging to come up with fair judgment regarding other groups. The other way in which stereotypes can be formed is through confirmation bias. It occurs when a person experiences different behavior of a person, from what they expected them to portray. For example, if there is a commonly held belief about a certain group and a member of the group engages in such behavior, this may lead to stereotyping. Stereotypes may also be formed through believing what the media says about some people. For example, observing the stereotypes about other people by the media and believing in them may lead to stereotypes (Stangor 3).
Stereotypes have an impact on behavior in a number of ways; there are beliefs that people who have negatively affect the behavior of others have an influence on those who may be the victims of stereotypes. One of the ways in which stereotypes affect behavior is through lowering self-esteem. The self-esteem of the stereotyped person is affected by the act of stereotyping. As a result, they may feel worthless and develop negative attitudes towards themselves. Stereotypes also affect behavior since they lead to discrimination, as well as isolation of the stereotyped person. Groups that receive unfair treatment because of the stereotypes held towards them may isolate themselves from society. For example, this is the case when some ethnic or religious groups are stereotyped by other groups.
Stereotyping leads to social withdrawal when people come to the realization that others stereotype them. Groups of people which are frequently stereotyped tend to withdraw from activities in the society. Besides, they do not take part in crucial events since they feel ashamed to mingle with other people. Stereotyped people perceive themselves as outcasts and alienate themselves from the rest of the world. Another impact of stereotypes on behavior is destructing human interactions. Interactions between people who are stereotyped and those taking part in stereotyping them are comparatively reduced. Nowadays relationships between people became strained because of stereotyping. Consequently, enmity in groups may develop negative feelings and views towards each other (Jewett and John 231).
People who stereotype members of other groups can also be negatively affected by stereotyping. For example, they may develop some biases, which mean that they will have wrong beliefs about other people. These wrong beliefs may be inculcated in oneself, and they may lead to misinformation about other groups. As a result, they may not consider views from the victims of stereotyping. Racial and ethnic stereotypes may contribute to hostile behavior between two groups, which may stereotype one another. To some extent, this may necessitate behavior that can cause conflicts between two groups. The other impact of stereotypes on behavior is that they lead to change in attitudes of people stereotyping others and the stereotyped person. Attitudes towards groups subjected to stereotypes changes significantly; on the same note, the attitudes of the stereotyped groups undergo numerous changes (Jewett and John 231).
In conclusion, stereotypes encompass labels, assumptions, and beliefs that may be held towards certain groups. Stereotypes can be formed through experiences, as well as by imitating what is said by significant others. Children can learn stereotypes from their parents, peers, as well as teachers. Stereotypes affect human behavior in significant ways; for example, they lead to stained relationships between the people being stereotyped and those who stereotype them. Stereotypes also lead to social isolation, as well as withdrawal from the daily activities of the society. Moreover, stereotypes may precipitate some behaviors, which may lead to conflicts and hostility between groups.