Stereotype is a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a person or a group of people





Social Psychology


Stereotype is a set of beliefs about the personal attributes of a person or a group of people. it is a schema of sorts; prejudice is a biased evaluation of a group that is often targeted at the individual members of that group, whatever may cause this attitude may be real or imagined characteristics of the group; While discrimination on the other hand is a negative act towards a person or group of people that is solely based on their membership of such a group.

Over the last 200 years, slavery has been abolished, women given the right to vote and schools desegregated. Recently, both public and private schools have increased the support they give their students financially for those who are economically at a disadvantage and there are several policies that have been established to reduce if not minimize inequities. One would assume we are actually moving to a morally ideally society where there is equality for all, but we are not.

Social differences and other disparities still remain. It is true that race is still a factor when it concerns socio-economic status and even in the level of education. It is still true that Caucasians and Asian-Americans get more advantages in this society than would African-Americans or Latinos. The representation of women, not only in politics but also in other lucrative fields is still far from impressive and the significant wage gap between them and their male counterparts never seem to reduce. We may be moving forward, although we are moving ever so slowly.

It is not a surprise at all that it is stereotype, prejudice and discrimination that have fundamentally sustained these inequities. For instance, stereotype impedes the good intentions that people would generally and inherently have and replace them with inaccurate assumptions, negative perceptions and judgments that are impaired and this eventually affects their relationship with other people. This may be positive or negative and sometimes even neutral.

These associations of stereotype are built and grown over time through the exposure to cultures and the experiences in life. They make people feel that they understand what to expect and when they meet an unfamiliar person, the generalized beliefs that are based on that person’s clothing, appearance, sex, race or age will clearly determine the interactions. Any decision to act differently is automatic and sometimes beyond a person’s control.

Prejudice is more of an affective bias. It is more of a negative attitude or a general feeling. For instance, when one says he is disgusted by whites this would express prejudice against this group of people based on their race. Just like stereotype, this bias can develop at a very tender age depending on the environment that the child grows up in. Prejudice tends to be controlled by emotions and sometimes may lead to dehumanization of others, sometimes violently; the Holocaust, the Middle East crisis and the 9/11 tragedy show very good examples of hatred that as been cultivated on prejudice.

Discrimination unlike the other two is behavioral and would normally occur when one acts differently towards another and this action may be based on the stereotype they hold or the prejudice they feel. It may result in the refusal of some opportunity or means to a member from that group which is stigmatized. Take for example making an under qualified white man a full partner in a law firm over an African-American woman who is way qualified. There instances however that it may take a more subtle form. Instances of racial profiling are also good examples.

Some of the modes that could be used to do this includes educational and policy intervention for the reduction of bias. This is the easiest form of intergroup hostilities and other basis for hatred to be reduced.

Intergroup contact with members of the groups that a person has formed a bias towards and it is very critical in the battle against these biases. However, this tends to work only where the members of the different groups are of the same status and easier and more comfortable interactions.

There are some societies that are generally homogenous, in status, race and any other factor that may lead to bias. However, there are societies where lack of diversity can be a problem and such instances would require that we use the best media available to preach positive interactions through role models.


There are several ways that these forms of bias can be eliminated if not reduced. The idea is to consistently keep in mind the goal of treating others fairly and equally while at the same time endeavoring to prevent negative responses that become automatic over time.

When we are aware of our bias, regardless of them being based on stereotype association or prejudice that we have grown over time or discriminatory tendencies we form foundations for an ideally moral society. This is not all. We should also try and reduce the bias that others hold and especially children to see these tendencies in themselves.