Defining Stereotypes

June 27th, 2011 | Categories: Stereotypes in General

I realize I might have been a bit presumptuous in my previous articles. It occurs to me that I’ve named my blog The Communicated Stereotype but 1) I haven’t told you what that means and 2) I haven’t even told what a stereotype is. Granted, these are not difficult concepts and most people are probably already familiar with both. However, an important aspect of good research is operationalization. In other words, defining the words/phrases we use is important if we want people to know what we are saying.

A Stereotype

Ultimately, defining a stereotype is simple. A stereotype is a presumed association between a group and some characteristic(s). So, for example, each of the Top 10 Racial Stereotypes posted on topTenz.Net fit this definition.
10. White People Don’t Have Rhythm
9. African Americans Are Good At Basketball
8. All Asians Are Geniuses
7. Hispanics Don’t Speak English Very Well or Not at All
6. Native Americans Love to Gamble
5. All Asians Know Kung Fu
4. African American Men Are Well Endowed
3. Middle Easterners Hate America
2. White People Are All Racist
1. Hispanics Are All Illegal Aliens

The Communicated Stereotype

This is even more simple. Imagine any of the above stereotypes actually spoken to another person. That’s a communicated stereotype.

Nonverbally communicated stereotypes are more subtle. Imagine being Asian and going with some Caucasian friends to a Chinese restaurant. The server gives you chopsticks but everyone else gets forks. The communicated stereotype is that all Asians use chopsticks. Or, you are female playing on a mostly male softball team and are up to bat it’s likely everyone in the outfield will move in. The communicated stereotype is all females are poor athletes. These nonverbal stereotypes are more subtle, but are nonetheless also communicated stereotypes.

When you’re not sure if someone has communicated a stereotype to you, check this article and hopefully it will make it more clear for you.

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