“For us to have stereotypes is to have a preconceived idea about others. Usually, they are negative thoughts that increase the concept of “them” versus “us”. On the other hand, we do not think we can avoid them, but how to overcome them? And also, sometimes these stereotypes can be true, right?
It is difficult to find a definition. It is an idea that has been generalized.
For example, someone who has a lot of stereotypes about others will most probably be unhappy if the others do not answer to his/her expectations, this can be lonely and sad.”
“Stereotype” comes from the Greek word στερεός (stereos) which means solid. According to the Oxford dictionary, stereotype can be defined as “a fixed idea or image that many people have of a particular type of person or thing, but which is often not true in reality”.
In our context, it refers more to the stereotypes about people, according to one or more characteristics: ethnic or social origin, gender, physical appearance, religion etc…
The psychology professor Jacques-Philippe Leyens proposes this definition: “implicit theories of personality that all the members of a group share about all the members of another group or about their own group”.
These theories are born from a categorization, where the differences between people of the same group are reduced, and the differences between the members of this group with another group are accentuated. If we take the example of gender stereotypes: they consist in saying that women are all emotional, and that men are totally different and much less sensitive.
Stereotypes are not just ideas, they can have concrete consequences on the people who are targeted: in social psychology, there is a phenomenon called the “threat of stereotype”. When you are part of a group victim of stereotypes, and you are in a situation which mobilizes this “social identity”, these stereotypes can affect your behaviour.
In the United States, two researchers, Joshua Aronson and Claude Steel, conducted the first experiment on the subject in 1995: psychologists tested two groups made up of black and white people. For the first group, they explained that this test would reveal their intellectual capacities. For the second group, they explained that the goal was only to study the human psychological mechanisms in solving a problem. The results show that in the first group, black people scored lower than white people, while there is no difference between the responses of white and black people in the second. For the researchers, the “stereotype threat” had been activated for black people in the first group: Aware of the stereotype that black people are less intelligent, black students may be under pressure from fear of confirming this stereotyping, which affects their attitudes. performance.
References to go deeper:
Video: “Battling Cultural Stereotypes”, Sadie Ortiz TEDxTalks
Les Stéréotypes de genre : Identités, rôles sociaux et politiques publiques, Pascaline Gaborit
Video: How Gender Stereotypes Influence Emerging Career Aspirations, Shelley Correll, University of Sandford