Prejudice, Stereotypes and Groups

Prejudice,Stereotypes and Groups


Prejudice,Stereotypes and Groups

Stereotypeis a notion conceived about a group of people as result of theirassociation. These notions may or may not be true but portraying anegative attitude. Usually stereotyping is not associated with beingaware or conscious of the perceived notions. Prejudice on the other,is a preformed opinion about a group without any knowledge orexperience on the group that is usually unreasonable. In psychologythese terms have elicited a lot of debate and have consequently ledstudies on the matter (Dovidio,2001).Among the many theories that explain how stereotypes came tobe,social cognition seem to top the research of many psychologist.This has been echoed by the work of Fiske &ampTaylor (1984). Thistheory considers a look into stereotyping at an individual levelrather than a group level. Usually on basis of laboratory studiesstereotypes are elaborated in terms of schemata which is aninvestigation into their generalizations, comparison, grouping andperceptions. And thus stereotypes are considered social schemas thatprocess information about other people regardless of their consciousawareness (Hilton &amp von Hippel, 1996).

Prejudicehas a more to it than stereotypes do. They have an added affectivenature as well a negative attitude towards a group. This kind ofnotion is conceived towards a strong disbelief to a particular groupfor no concrete or reasonable thinking. The focus on prejudice hasbeen different with sociologists and psychologists differing on thefunction of prejudice being group related or at an individual level. Sociologists have theorized prejudice as a group related affairrelationship on a larger grouping perspective such as race (Blauner,1972).

Groupsare linked to individuals with a common interest based on their likesand dislike. Grouping can be either out of coincidences or actualeffort is put to bring individual of similar belief together. Theglue that sticks individuals in a group is the thought that sharingsimilar interest gives the members of these grouping power over allother notion over the subject. Mob mentality is a key feature inthese groups and thus holds a high line of the decisions made by themembers of these groupings.

Themedia is a powerful that influences the public perception on certainissues on a daily basis. The power of the media has in one way or theother shaped different notions on various subjects and has influencedthe mentality of the individuals or groups. How the media portrays asubject in either good or bad light even though it has a neutralstand it s usually biased in one way. This considerably affects theopinion of the public on the matter put across.Understatedstereotyping and cognitive difference of opinion can affect theability to bring about social change in a way that the information isportrayed and conveyed across. For instance, differentcommunities have different and unique practices and to them none ismorally wrong as it inherited from their ancestor and so it issomewhat sacred to them. The media is a civilized entity and willportray issues in the civilized and modern way of life. This isbiased and subjective to the civilized side portraying the ethnicside in negative attitude. This, to a larger extent, affects theability to bring about social change. Another good example is inSwaziland the Head of State marries every year which is tradition andwith the high rate of HIV/AIDS infection, the tradition of polygamousmarriage has been shunned by the media solely based on the thistradition creating stereotypes against this sought of practise justby mere opinion of the press. This difference of opinion through themedia has affected the social change ability.

Somestrategies that will help to recognize and reduce subtle stereotypingand cognitive dissonance is educating the public about the pros andcons of some traditions and other forms of conveying messages. Mediahas to be monitored with the manner in which they portray informationabout a certain group.

Ethicalconsideration that should be highly valued is the belief andpractices of the different people constituting the inhabitants of aplace. By considering such you rule out biasness during research.Also language and meaning of words should be considered in researchof groups, stereotypes and prejudice to have a vivid and clearunderstanding of the individuals and the inter-groups.


Blauner,R. (1972). RaceOppression in America.NewYork: Harper &amp Row.

Dovidio,J. F. (2001). On the nature of contemporary prejudice: The thirdwave. Journalof Social Issues,57, 829โ€“849.

Fiske,S. T. &amp Taylor, S. E. (1984).SocialCognition.New York: Random House.

Hilton,J. L., &amp von Hippel, W. (1996). Stereotypes. AnnualReview of Psychology,47, 237โ€“271.