Essay on Cultural and Racial Stereotyping

1439 Words 6 Pages
Most people find stereotypes to be obnoxious, especially when they have to do with sensitive subjects like gender or race. “Stereotyping is a generalization about a group or category of people that can have a powerful influence on how we perceive others and their communication behaviors” (Floyd, 61). Because they underestimate the differences among individuals in a group, stereotyping can lead to inaccurate and offensive perceptions of other people. Although stereotypes are prevalent in almost every society, becoming aware of our perceptions of others, as well as differentiating between both positive and negative stereotypes can help us overcome those stereotypes.
“Stereotyping is a three-part process” (Floyd, 61). In the first stage, we
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. As people grow older and realize their racial, religious, and cultural groups, they tend to differentiate themselves from other groups. The main reason we develop stereotypes is because it is just human nature for us to categorize people. Stereotypes are a way to simplify groups of people and establish identities, especially when one doesn’t know much about the group (“Overcoming Stereotypes”).
Although prejudice and stereotype seem similar, they actually have two different meanings. While stereotyping involves the generalization of a group of people, prejudice involves negative feelings when “they” are in the presence of or even think about members of the group. “Prejudice comes from direct intergroup conflict, social learning, social categorization and other cognitive sources” (Ferguson). Not all stereotypes are negative; there are also positive and neutral stereotypes. Some stereotypes do not slander a race, culture, gender, or religion, but nonetheless generalize a group of people that may or may not be true. For example, some people say that all Asians are smart or good at math. Though people of Asian descent may often be more studious, not all Asians do equally well in school (Floyd, 62). Another common example of a positive stereotype is that all black people are good athletes, dancers, and singers. Though these are positive stereotypes, when people believe them, they don’t take into account that every person is an individual and different. A neutral stereotype