Stereotypes and Society
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Stereotype is defined as a thought that describes a certain type of individual or way of behavior. Despite the fact that these thoughts do not necessarily reflect the reality, they remain an integral part of the modern society. Moreover, stereotypes have become a real problem (McGarty, Yzerbyt, and Spears 14). For instance, stereotypes can label a person with certain qualities according to the race, sex, and personality. As a result, stereotypes have created a distortion of how every person should behave or look. No doubt, stereotypes have a certain impact on the society.
Stereotypes represent categories of the people and their fundamental qualities. According to Tolerance Organization, “categories give order to life, and everyday life, we group other people into categories based on social and other characteristics” (Dovidio, Glick, and Rudman 36).
However, categories and stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination. As a result, stereotypes can have negative impact on a society. People can also be influenced by the stereotypes even after being exposed to certain thoughts and beliefs. In particular, people can behave aggressively after they have experienced prejudice (Nauert). Moreover, even good stereotypes can result in racism and discrimination, as well as lead to prejudgment.
Stereotypes also have impact on the ability of a person to become successful. It is considered that highly successful people are not influenced by stereotypes and psychological pressure of categorization. However, stereotypes can have an impact on the process of becoming successful. In particular, people who try to achieve something in their life remain the most disposed to the unconscious behavior caused by stereotyping. The threat does not necessarily come directly from the employees, colleagues, teachers or directors. It can have an unconscious nature. In particular, people worry about how their behavior or personal qualities can be judged from the perspective of a negative stereotype about a social group they represent, rather than by their actions. For instance, members of categorized groups, such as African-Americans, Asians, and women, worryabout general stereotypes and this reduces their performance. Thus, there is a connection between stereotypes and success (Conaway 40).
One of the negative results of the stereotypes is the strengthening of discrimination. Modern society can be characterized as multicultural. There are many representatives of different cultures and religions in the world. Stereotypes represent an integral part of psychological approaches to racism and prejudice. For instance, people usually develop stereotypes in case they cannot obtain information necessary for fair judgment. Indeed, negative beliefs or feelings about a particular group of individuals prevail in the modern society. For example, African-Americans have been portrayed in television and press as unintelligent, lazy, and violent. Thus, prejudice against African-Americans has emerged. Another example is represented by an attitude towards minority groups. In particular, people with mental disabilities are thought to be violence-prone. However, according to researches, people with mental disabilities do not show violence more than other people. They even are more likely to become victims of violence (Stuart 122). Thus, stereotypes can result in prejudice and discrimination in regard to race, ethnicity, culture, religion and other differences between people.
Negative impact of racial stereotypes was used by the people for centuries. For instance, stereotypes were used in order to justify civilian casualties and crimes against humanity during the World War II. The atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States were justified by the Americans. The US citizens consider these actions to be justified because of the negative categorization of the US enemies. Even current international relations can be influenced by stereotypes. In particular, the Western press highlights the current democracy protests in Hong Kong in the tone of surprise and wonder. Hongkongers are considered to be more peaceful protesters than representatives of other nations. Anyway, there are many observes that consider such a description of Western press to be racist. On the one hand, Chinese are characterized by the stereotypes of being orderly. It is not typical for them to protest against the goveernment and ruling regime. On the other hand, other nations are considered to be more violent than Chinese. In addition, Chinese democracy movement is determined by the anti-Asian stereotypes. The events in Hong Kong were met with skepticism. It is determined by the stereotype that the Chinese do not have the complex spectrum of politics similar to the West political systems. As a result, Chinese society is considered to be politically monolithic. Thus, its political thoughts and opinions cannot be diverse and varied.
Stereotypes are also determined by generalization of every particular situation. Generalizations are based on personal experience, articles in the periodicals, TV programs, and movies. In particular, movie Crash demonstrates how racism influences people's life. Crash tells the stories of representatives of different racial, ethic, and religion groups, such as whites, blacks, Latinos, or Koreans. Every character becomes a victim of racism and discrimination. However, everyone is guilty of categorization, even those who are categorized. Crash has a clear message that people tend to prejudice and feel resentment towards the representatives of other groups. As a result, they experience the consequences of their actions and beliefs. Characters fail to recognize the actual nature of a person, which contributes to the occurrence of racial discrimination. However, Haggis, the director of the movie, demonstrates that people can learn from their own experience and become better (Crash). Thus, movie can help to become more tolerant and show more sympathy towards other races and nations.
It also has to be mentioned that not all stereotypes result in racism, discrimination, prejudice, and other types of unjust treatment. Stereotypes are created by the need of a person to generalize other people and their behavior in order to make sense of the complicated environment. Stereotypes provide people with an opportunity to categorize everything into comfortable groups that are already defined by their experience. Unfortunately, stereotypes have deeply rooted in the modern society. In order to reduce the negative impact of stereotypes on a society, people should learn not to prejudge.
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