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Research on Stereotypes


Stereotype is a significant known open belief about an individual or a certain social group. Assumptions are the basis of stereotyping with the characteristics of members in certain groups perceived to be different from one’s own.  Prejudice reflects on the emotional reaction. Stereotypes differ from discrimination as they are beliefs while discrimination reflects actions brought about by these beliefs. There are both negative and positive stereotypes (Inzlicht & Kang, 2010). Negative stereotypes are beliefs of negative attitude towards a group features, for example, all Africans are poor. Positive stereotypes are encouraging attitude towards certain group characteristics, for example, women are the backbone of society. Stereotypes are not only to groups of people, but also individuals and cultures. Stereotypes exists where there is a difference in objects and people. This paper highlights three examples of stereotypes, their effects to the perceived persons and the overriding belief to sustain the stereotypes.

“All Muslims and Arabs are terrorists”, this is a stereotype towards the Muslim and Arab communities. It is a stereotype that is perpetuated by groups and individuals who are non-Muslims allied to the Western regimes (American and British regimes). American media propel this stereotype showing Arabs as bombers. In some films, for example, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987), it shows planned mass killings in Los Angeles by Arab thugs. The aftermath of September, 11 attacks on American soil did help to propagate this stereotype in a wide scale. This was from the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Arabs and professed Muslim faith. It is unfortunate that most terrorist attacks and groups are inclined to be carried out by members of Muslim faith. The ‘Al-Qaeda’ terror group has a large percentage of its members from Arab origin. The ‘Al-Shabaab’ group in Somalia has members professing Muslim faith as well as the ‘Boko-Haram’ terror group in Nigeria. The significant reason to this stereotype is the fact that Sharia law in Islamic faith is not supported by the anti-Muslim members of society. In addition, the call for Jihad is also in contention among the non-Muslim faiths. The effect of this stereotype led to thorough scrutiny on Muslim and Arab habitats as well as their luggage in transport destinations. It is a mistake to condemn all Muslims and Arabs as terrorists for in reality it is not true. The fact that a majority of terrorist suspects profess Islamic faith does not make all Muslims terrorists (Lester & Ross, 2003).  

“Physical appearance is the principle concern to girls”, this is a stereotype towards female gender and especially young girls. From the advertisements, films, social settings, it is evident why girls lay emphasis on their physical outlook. There is an association of good happenings with beautiful and well maintained girls while the ugly are associated with adverse happenings in the modern society. Employment and social opportunities, successful marriages, salary increments, friendships are associated with the beautiful and intelligent girls. The cultural and social classes where women are valued more for their physical appearance help perpetuate this stereotype. Beauty pageants are the cream of this stereotype, where the girls who qualify in auditions have to be slim and anorexic. Advertisements of various beauty products and many involving women align themselves towards the slim women. This stereotyping makes a majority of women believe that they have to slim to be of value and beautiful. In the employment sector, wage increments are linear to the attractiveness of women. This stereotype has led to use of various beauty products trying to perfect their physical outlook. However, such stereotypes have led to lower self confidence and self-esteem in those women perceived to be plump or unattractive (Pfeifer, 2012).

‘‘Women are poor in mathematics”, is a stereotype on women concerning their performance in mathematics and science subjects. There is the belief that women are not good in mathematics, and they perform poorly with numbers. In a study, women were divided into two groups of equal numbers. These groups undertook a mathematics test to find their level of smartness in the subject. One group was stereotyped and prejudiced on their capability in mathematics. The other group received support and encouragement with strategies on how to counter mathematic problems. The stereotyped group performed poorly. It portrayed after effects such as eating more than their peers in the supported group. They showed more hostility than those in the control group, who performed exemplary well. This shows the effects of stereotyping and the counter effects it results to the targeted group. This stereotype make women have fear to try or engage in subjects that involve calculations. In addition, this stereotype influences the careers women choose in life, for example, there are few female engineers and mathematicians (Inzlicht & Kang, 2010).


It is evident that stereotypes are beliefs that often affect the growth and development as well as working of the targeted individual or group. From the above analyzed stereotypes, it is critical to note that a certain religion, society or culture cannot be entirely stereotyped for few of its members involving in terrorist activities. Also, worth noting is that not all beautiful, slim and fairly skinned women are intelligent, honest and successful. Stereotyping brings about prejudice and discrimination to the targeted individuals or groups with unfair treatment.

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