What is stereotype?

We explain what a stereotype is and how this structured image works. In addition, stereotype types and a brief conclusion.

  1. What is stereotype?

A stereotype consists of a structured image accepted by most people as representative of a certain group. This image is formed from a static conception of the generalized characteristics of the members of that community.

The word stereotype comes from the Greek ” stereós “, solid, and ” typos “, print or mold ; being the exaggerated perception and with few details, simplified, that one has about a person or group of people who share certain characteristics, qualities and abilities , and who seek to “justify or rationalize a certain behavior in relation to a certain social category.”

In general, when a case is specified, it is because it was already accepted by the majority as a pattern or model of qualities or behaviors . Stereotypes are common allegations of the past . They include a wide variety of allegations about various racial groups and behavioral predictions based on social status or wealth. They are pre-constructed thought schemes or linguistic schemes shared by individuals from the same social community or culture.

  1. How do stereotypes work?

There is a tripartition that allows us to understand how stereotypes work in societies.

  • Cognitive component : It allows us to recognize a stereotype, because it fits with previous knowledge that we already have about it, it is a category that allows us to easily identify and recognize certain groups.
  • Affective component : On the other hand, there is also an affective component, where the feelings we experience in relation to this stereotype come into play, which may be prejudice or hostility, or be positive.
  • Behavioral component : Finally, in all stereotypes there is a behavioral component that involves carrying out actions associated with those feelings experienced against certain stereotypes. For example, when someone is denied a job because they belong to a particular group.

These three components do not necessarily appear all together. One can associate groups with negative characteristics without feeling hostility or reluctance towards it and without excluding them from social spheres such as work.

  1. Types of stereotypes

Stereotype - Jewish man
There are religious stereotypes, like the one that says Jews are greedy.

In its origins, the term referred to the impression obtained from a mold constructed with lead . Over the years, its application became metaphorical and began to be used to name a set of fixed beliefs that one group has over another. It is a representation or an unalterable thought over time , which is accepted and shared on a social level by the majority of the members of a group.

Stereotypes can be of the “social” type (according to the social class they come from. Ex: chetos, flaites, strawberries), “cultural” (according to the customs they have. Ex: fascists ) or “racial” (according to the ethnic group of which they are part. Ex: Jews, blacks).

However , stereotypes are usually formed by joining these three characteristics, so it is very difficult to separate them completely from each other. It should also be noted that there are stereotypes linked to ” religion “ , such as that which defines Jews as greedy.

  1. Advertising and stereotypes

An element that considerably affects the way in which one group looks at another, that is to say that it allows the creation of stereotypes, is advertising, because it instills them in collective thinking through the media . An example of this is the macho publicity that tries to convince us, for example, that cars are for men (that is to say that all men like vehicles and women carelessly) and body creams are for women (that is, all women are very interested in their physical appearance and men are not interested in theirs).

In the macho advertising, the image of the woman is presented as that of someone heterosexual, married to a man , who performs the housework and takes care of the children they both have in common. Their professions are usually of nurse, teacher or secretary (always with a boss, mostly man). And if not, they present her as a frivolous, superficial, tender being, object of the desire of men (homosexuality is never mentioned), guilty of divorces and with great emotional instability.

For his part, the man is a strong, balanced being, an unequivocal father , who is overwhelmed by the problems of the house (of which his wife is guilty) and takes refuge in beer with his friends or at work, to avoid situations that cause stress .

Two stereotypes of the same society where the role they play is to divide it: men on the one hand, women on the other, the elderly, children, people in the city , those in the countryside, etc. And so we find a society absolutely fragmented by this human mania of labeling and separating everything.

Although with the passing of the years an attempt has been made to give a more open image , it is enough that we sit in front of the television for about an hour to find that things have not changed so much and that, in reality , we are still so smeared the stereotypes imposed by sexism as centuries ago.

  1. Conclusion on stereotypes

Stereotypes can end up becoming pejorative labels.

Stereotypes, in this sense, are a set of ideas, attitudes and pre-established beliefs that are applied , in a general way, to certain individuals, cataloging and enclosing them within certain social categories, whether due to their nationality, ethnicity, age, sex , sexual orientation or origin.

For this reason, stereotyped conceptions about people can become confused with prejudices, ideas and preconceived opinions , since stereotypes can end up becoming pejorative or derogatory labels that cause a negative impact on others.

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