How to deal with Stereotypes

Stereotype can be defined as an opinion formed and shared by group of people to identify and describe others as different from them. A stereotype can be used as single word, multiple words or images to identify a group of people or a community.

A stereotype can be negative or positive and therefore can make people being referred to feel inferior or superior. It is an opinion generally formed by one group without any evidence to reinforce the views. It disregards individual traits and instead uses the same yardstick in classifying members of a certain group.

Stereotypes are part of culture and help in identifying groups by creating biases. These biases make one group feel superior to the other one thus giving rise classifications such as in-groups and out-group. Stereotyping can be done consciously in which case the opinion formed about a group is deliberate or subconsciously, meaning without noticing.

To create a stereotype, there must be a consistent attribute that is unique to a set of people that can easily identify them. Stereotypes can be formed around all aspects of life such as race, religion, cultural beliefs, profession and gender.

Since stereotypes cannot be wished away, how then do we deal with the phenomenon especially negative stereotyping that can lead to animosity between groups? One of the ways of dealing with negative stereotype is to try and blend with every group of people so that they can have different attitude about you. The other way of avoiding stereotype is to try and do things different from the established norms. It is difficult to do away with stereotypes but people can learn to leave with them by adopting the positive aspects of stereotypes.

Stereotype can lead to tensions especially in conflict situations. For instance a group that is viewed to be aggressive will invariably act in the same way thus making an already tense situation worse. Since stereotypes are generalizations about a group, the best way to handle them is by doing things that mitigate its perpetuation.


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