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A stereotype is a commonly held public belief about specific social groups, or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups, based on some prior assumptions.The vital component to recall is that generally speaking, these "stereotypes" are not based on objective truth, but rather subjective and often unverifiable content-matter.

An 18th century stereotype of toileting in Europe.



The word stereotype (στερεότυπος), literally meaning "solid-kind". It was invented by Firmin Didot in the world of printing; it was originally a duplicate impression of an original typographical element, used for printing instead of the original. American journalist Walter Lippmann coined the metaphor, calling a stereotype a "picture in our heads" saying "Whether right or wrong (...) imagination is shaped by the pictures seen (...) Consequently, they lead to stereotypes that are hard to shake." [1] In fact, the word cliché and stereotype were both originally printers' words, and in their literal printers' meanings were synonymous. Specifically, cliché was a French word for the printing surface for a stereotype.[2] The first reference to "stereotype", in its modern, English use was in 1850, in the noun, meaning "image perpetuated without change".[3]

The term "stereotype" derives from Greek στερεός (stereos) "solid, firm"[4] and τύπος (typos) "blow, impression, engraved mark"[5] hence "solid impression". The term, in its modern psychology sense, was first used by Walter Lippmann in his 1922 work Public Opinion[6] although in the printing sense it was first coined 1798.


Sociologists believe that mental categorizing (or labelling) is necessary and inescapable. One perspective on how to understand stereotyping process is through the categories or ingroups and outgroups. Ingroups are viewed as normal and superior, and are generally the group that one associates with or aspires to join. An outgroup is simply all the other groups. They are seen as lesser or inferior than the ingroups.

A second perspective is that of automatic and implicit or subconscious and conscious. Automatic or subconscious stereotyping is that which everyone does without noticing. Automatic stereotyping is quickly preceded by an implicit or conscious check which permits time for any needed corrections. Automatic stereotyping is affected by implicit stereotyping because frequent conscious thoughts will quickly develop into subconscious stereotypes.

A third method to categorizing stereotypes is general types and sub-types. Stereotypes consist of hierarchical systems consisting of broad and specific groups being the general types and sub-types respectively. A general type could be defined as a broad stereotype typically known among many people and usually widely accepted, whereas the sub-group would be one of the several groups making up the general group. These would be more specific, and opinions of these groups would vary according to differing perspectives.

Certain circumstances can affect the way an individual stereotypes. For instance: Studies have shown that women stereotype more negatively than men, and that women read into appearance more than men. Some theorists argue in favor of the conceptual connection and that one's own subjective thought about someone is sufficient information to make assumptions about that individual. Other theorists argue that at minimum there must be a casual connection between mental states and behavior to make assumptions or stereotypes. Thus results and opinions may vary according to circumstance and theory. An example of a common, incorrect assumption is that of assuming certain internal characteristics based on external appearance. The explanation for one's actions is his or her internal state (goals, feeling, personality, traits, motives, values, and impulses), not his or her appearance.

Sociologist Charles E. Hurst of the College of Wooster states that, "One reason for stereotypes is the lack of personal, concrete familiarity that individuals have with persons in other racial or ethnic groups. Lack of familiarity encourages the lumping together of unknown individuals".[7]

Stereotypes focus upon and thereby exaggerate differences between groups. Competition between groups minimizes similarities and magnifies differences.[8] This makes it seem as if groups are very different when in fact they may be more alike than different. For example, among African Americans, identity as an American citizen is more salient than racial background; that is, African Americans are more American than African.[9]


Different disciplines give different accounts of how stereotypes develop: Psychologists may focus on an individual's experience with groups, patterns of communication about those groups, and intergroup conflict. Pioneering psychologist William James cautioned psychologists themselves to be wary of their own stereotyping, in what he called the psychologist's fallacy. Sociologists focus on the relations among groups and the position of different groups in a social structure. Psychoanalytically-oriented humanists have argued (e.g., Sander Gilman) that stereotypes, by definition, are representations that are not accurate, but a projection of one to another.

A number of theories have been derived from sociological studies of stereotyping and prejudicial thinking. In early studies it was believed that stereotypes were only used by rigid, repressed, and authoritarian people. Sociologists concluded that this was a result of conflict, poor parenting, and inadequate mental and emotional development. This idea has been overturned; more recent studies have concluded that stereotypes are commonplace.

One theory as to why people stereotype is that it is too difficult to take in all of the complexities of other people as individuals. Even though stereotyping is inexact, it is an efficient way to mentally organize large blocks of information. Categorization is an essential human capability because it enables us to simplify, predict, and organize our world. Once one has sorted and organized everyone into tidy categories, there is a human tendency to avoid processing new or unexpected information about each individual. Assigning general group characteristics to members of that group saves time and satisfies the need to predict the social world in a general sense.

Another theory is that people stereotype because of the need to feel good about oneself. Stereotypes protect one from anxiety and enhance self-esteem. By designating one's own group as the standard or normal group and assigning others to groups considered inferior or abnormal, it provides one with a sense of worth.

Some believe that childhood influences are some of the most complex and influential factors in developing stereotypes. Though they can be absorbed at any age, stereotypes are usually acquired in early childhood under the influence of parents, teachers, peers, and the media. Once a stereotype is learned, it often becomes self-perpetuating.

Effects, accuracy, terminology

Stereotypes can have a negative and positive impact on individuals. Joshua Aronson and Claude M. Steele have done research on the psychological effects of stereotyping, particularly its effect on African Americans and women.[10] They argue that psychological research has shown that competence is highly responsive to situation and interactions with others.[11] They cite, for example, a study which found that bogus feedback to college students dramatically affected their IQ test performance, and another in which students were either praised as very smart, congratulated on their hard work, or told that they scored high. The group praised as smart performed significantly worse than the others. They believe that there is an 'innate ability bias'. These effects are not just limited to minority groups. Mathematically competent white males, mostly math and engineering students, were asked to take a difficult math test. One group was told that this was being done to determine why Asians were scoring better. This group performed significantly worse than the other group.[11]:443

Possible prejudicial effects of stereotypes are:

  • Justification of ill-founded prejudices or ignorance
  • Unwillingness to rethink one's attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group
  • Preventing some people of stereotyped groups from entering or succeeding in activities or fields

The effects of stereotyping can fluctuate, but for the most part they are negative, and not always apparent until long periods of time have passed. Over time, some victims of negative stereotypes display self-fulfilling prophecy behavior, in which they assume that the stereotype represents norms to emulate. Negative effects may include forming inaccurate opinions of people, scapegoating, erroneously judgmentalism, preventing emotional identification, distress, and impaired performance. Stereotyping painfully reminds those being judged of how society views them.

Role in art and culture

Stereotypes are common in various cultural media, where they take the form of dramatic stock characters. These characters are found in the works of playwright Bertolt Brecht, Dario Fo, and Jacques Lecoq, who characterize their actors as stereotypes for theatrical effect. In commedia dell'arte this is similarly common. The instantly recognizable nature of stereotypes mean that they are effective in advertising and situation comedy. These stereotypes change, and in modern times only a few of the stereotyped characters shown in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress would be recognizable.

In literature and art, stereotypes are clichéd or predictable characters or situations. Throughout history, storytellers have drawn from stereotypical characters and situations, in order to connect the audience with new tales immediately. Sometimes such stereotypes can be sophisticated, such as Shakespeare's Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Arguably a stereotype that becomes complex and sophisticated ceases to be a stereotype per se by its unique characterization. Thus while Shylock remains politically unstable in being a stereotypical Jew, the subject of prejudicial derision in Shakespeare's era, his many other detailed features raise him above a simple stereotype and into a unique character, worthy of modern performance. Simply because one feature of a character can be categorized as being typical does not make the entire character a stereotype.

Despite their proximity in etymological roots, cliché and stereotype are not used synonymously in cultural spheres. For example a cliché is a high criticism in narratology where genre and categorization automatically associates a story within its recognizable group. Labeling a situation or character in a story as typical suggests it is fitting for its genre or category. Whereas declaring that a storyteller has relied on cliché is to pejoratively observe a simplicity and lack of originality in the tale. To criticize Ian Fleming for a stereotypically unlikely escape for James Bond would be understood by the reader or listener, but it would be more appropriately criticized as a cliché in that it is overused and reproduced. Narrative genre relies heavily on typical features to remain recognizable and generate meaning in the reader/viewer.

The teen sitcom Saved by the Bell features a typical group of high school stereotypes such as a class clown (Zack Morris), a jock (A.C. Slater), a nerd (Samuel "Screech" Powers), a cheerleader (Kelly Kapowski), a feminist (Jessie Spano), and a superficial fashion plate (Lisa Turtle). Some observed the sitcom, like many teen sitcoms of that time, in addition to stereotyping people, stereotyping an institution itself, that of high school. Television stereotypes of high schools have often promoted a "typical American school" as football games, fashion styles, flirting, and not much devotion to academics or studying.

In movies and TV the halo effect is often used. This is when, for example, attractive men and women are assumed to be happier, stronger, nicer people [12].

Racial and ethnic stereotyping


Native Americans

The red-faced mascot of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, Chief Wahoo.
The discontinued mascot of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Chief Noc-A-Homa.

Native Americans have been stereotyped by others in both a negative and positive sense. There has long been an admiration of Native Americans as fitting the archetype of the noble savage within European thought, stemming from a cultural sympathy grounded within the post-Enlightenment theory of primitivism.[13][14] These positive portrayals of Native Americans as being noble, peaceful people, who lived in harmony with nature and each other continue within modern culture, e.g. the 1990 film Dances with Wolves.

Over time, as settlers spread west, Native Americans were seen as obstacles and their image became more negative. Native Americans were portrayed in popular media as wild, primitive, uncivilised, dangerous people who continuously attack white settlers, cowboys, and stagecoaches and ululate while holding one hand in front of their mouths. They speak invariably in a deep voice and use stop words like "How" and "Ugh".

In drawings their skin colour was depicted as deep red. In westerns and other media portrayals they are usually called "Indians". Examples of this stereotypical image of Native Americans can be found in many American westerns until the early 1960s, and in cartoons like Peter Pan. In other stereotypes, they smoked peace pipes, wore face paint, danced round totem poles (often with a hostage tied to them), sent smoke signals, lived in tepees, wore feathered head-dresses, scalped their foes, and said 'um' instead of 'the' or 'a'.

As colonisation continued in the U.S., groups were separated into categories like "Christians" and "civilised" against "heathen" and "savage". Many Whites view Native Americans as devoid of self-control and unable to handle responsibility. It is thought that such ideas about Native Americans form the ideology that is used today to justify the disparity between Whites and Native Americans [15]. Today, a 19th century stereotype of Native Americans lives on for many people. Modern Native Americans as they live today are rarely portrayed in popular culture.

Native Americans were also portrayed as all-bring fierce warrior braves—often appearing in school sports teams' names until such team names fell into disfavor in the later 20th century. Many school team names have been revised to reflect current sensibilities, though professional teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians, and the Washington Redskins continue. Some controversial upper-level Native American team mascots such as Chief Noc-A-Homa and Chief Illiniwek have been discontinued; others like Chief Wahoo and Chief Osceola and Renegade remain.

Due to somewhat recent reparations made by the U.S. government to the tribes which allow unregulated construction of casinos, along with unmonitored revenue received from the gambling, it has become a modern stereotype that a Native American must either own a casino or be in the family of one who does.[citation needed]

Inuit stereotypes

Inuit or Eskimo people are usually dressed in parkas, carving out trinkets, living in igloos, going fishing with a harpoon, traveling by sleigh and huskies, eating cod-liver oil and the men are usually called Nanook in reference to the documentary Nanook of the North. Eskimo children may have a seal for a best friend. Eskimos are often believed to have an unusually large number of words for snow. This is however an urban legend, which was claimed to be true by Ashley Montagu.

Eskimos are sometimes shown rubbing each other noses together as some sort of greeting ritual (Eskimo kissing). They're also often depicted surrounded by polar bears, walruses and inaccurately, with penguins, which only live in the Southern hemisphere and not on the North Pole. Sometimes Eskimos themselves are depicted living on the South Pole, which is again wrong for the same reason.

Black stereotypes

Early stereotypes

Early minstrel shows lampooned the supposed stupidity of black people. Detail from cover of The Celebrated Negro Melodies, as Sung by the Virginia Minstrels, 1843

In centuries before and during the first half of the 20th century black people were often depicted as dumb, evil, lazy, poor, cannibalistic, smelly, uncivilized, un-Christian [7] people. The early British colonists brought these initial thoughts with them to the U.S. White colonists commonly believed that black people were inferior to white people. These thoughts helped to justify black slavery and the institution of many laws that continually condoned inhumane treatment and perpetuated to keep black people in a lower socioeconomic position.[7]

Black people were usually depicted as slaves or servants, working in cane fields or carrying large piles of cotton. They were often portrayed as devout Christians going to church and singing gospel music. In many vaudeville shows, minstrel acts, cartoons, comics and animated cartoons of this period they were depicted as sad, lazy, dim-witted characters with big lips who sing bluesy songs and are good dancers, but get excited when confronted with dice games, chickens or watermelons (examples: all the characters portrayed by Stepin Fetchit and black characters in cartoons like "Sunday Go to Meetin' Time" and "All This and Rabbit Stew").

A more joyful black image, yet still very stereotypical, was provided by eternally happy black characters like Uncle Tom, Uncle Remus and Louis Armstrong's equally joyous stage persona. Another popular stereotype from this era was the black who is scared of ghosts (and usually turns white out of fear). Butlers were sometimes portrayed as black (for example the butler in many Shirley Temple movies). Housemaids were usually depicted as black, heavy-set middle-aged women who dress in large skirts (examples of this type are Mammy Two-Shoes, Aunt Jemima, Beulah and more recently the title character of Big Momma's House). Children are often pickaninnies like Little Black Sambo and Golliwog. African American Vernacular English speech was also often used in comedy, like for instance in the show Amos 'n' Andy.

African black people were usually depicted as primitive, childlike, cannibalistic persons who live in tribes, carry spears, believe in witchcraft and worship their wizard. White colonists are depicted tricking them by selling junk in exchange for valuable things and/or scaring them with modern technology. A well-known example of this image is Tintin in the Congo. When white people are caught by African tribes they are usually put in a large, black cauldron so they can be cooked and eaten. Sometimes black Africans are depicted as pygmies with childlike behavior so that they can be ridiculed as being similar to children.

Other stereotypical images are the male black African dressed in lip plates or with a bone sticking through his nasal septum. Stereotypical female black African depictions include the bare breasted woman with large breasts and notably fat buttocks (examples of this stereotype are the 19th century sideshow attraction Saartjie Baartman) or the woman who wears multiple rings around her giraffe-like neck (note: this type of neck ornament is also common in Burma with women from the Kayan tribe, but is generally associated with Africa (like in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Which Is Witch").

Secretary of State John C. Calhoun arguing for the extension of slavery in 1844 said "Here [scientific confirmation] is proof of the necessity of slavery. The African is incapable of self-care and sinks into lunacy under the burden of freedom. It is a mercy to give him the guardianship and protection from mental death."

Even after slavery ended the intellectual capacity of Black people was still frequently questioned. Lewis Terman wrote in The Measurement of Intelligence in 1916:

"[Black and other ethnic minority children] are ineducable beyond the nearest rudiments of training. No amount of school instruction will ever make them intelligent voters or capable citizens in the sense of the world…their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stock from which they come…Children of this group should be segregated in special classes and be given instruction which is concrete and practical. They cannot master abstractions, but they can be made efficient workers…There is no possibility at present of convincing society that they should not be allowed to reproduce, although from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusual prolific breeding.)"

Modern black stereotypes

Since the 1960s the stereotypical image of black people has changed in some media. More positive depictions appeared where black people and African Americans are portrayed as great athletes and superb singers and dancers. In many films and television series since the 1970s black people are depicted as good natured, kind, honest and intelligent persons. Often they are the best friend of the white protagonist (examples: Miami Vice, Lethal Weapon, Magnum Force).

Some critics believed this political correctness led to another stereotypical image where black people are often depicted too positively. Spike Lee popularized the term magical negro, deriding the archetype of the "super-duper magical negro" in 2001 while discussing films with students at Washington State University and at Yale University.[16][17]

One media survey in 1989 showed that blacks were more likely than whites to be described in demeaning intellectual terms.[18] Political activist and one-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson said in 1985 that the news media portray blacks as less intelligent than we are.[19] Film director Spike Lee explains that these images have negative impacts. "In my neighborhood, we looked up to athletes, guys who got the ladies, and intelligent people", and the images widely portrayed black Americans as living in inner-city areas, very low-income and under-educated than whites.

Even so-called positive images of Black people can lead to stereotypes about intelligence. In Darwin's Athletes: how sport has damaged Black America and preserved the myth of race, John Hoberman writes that the prominence of African American athletes encourages a de-emphasis on academic achievement in black communities.[20]

In a 1997 study on racial stereotypes in sports, participants were shown a photograph of a white or a black basketball player. They then listened to a recorded radio broadcast of a basketball game. White photographs were rated as exhibiting significantly more intelligence in the way they played the game, even though the radio broadcast and target player represented by the photograph were the same throughout the trial.[21] Several other authors have said that sports coverage that highlights 'natural black athleticism' has the effect of suggesting white superiority in other areas, such as intelligence.[22]

Patricia J. Williams, writer for The Nation, said this of Jar Jar Binks, a character from the 1999 and 2002 Star Wars films The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, respectively: "...intentionally or not, Jar Jar's pratfalls and high jinks borrow heavily from the genre of minstrelsy. Despite the amphibian get-up, his manchild-like idiocy is imported directly from the days of Amos 'n' Andy." Many aspects of Jar Jar's character are believed to be highly reminiscent of the archetypes portrayed in blackface minstrelsy.[23])

Middle Eastern and Muslim stereotypes

Stereotypes of Muslims often involve themes associated with violence. Such negative examples include Muslims being heavily associated with bomb-making and terroists plots. Also some see Muslims as poor though this is not expressed in the media often; alternatively, they are also sometimes portrayed as being extremely wealthy as a result of oil industry profits. Also related is the concept of Islamophobia, about the fear, hatred and dislike of Muslims.

White American stereotypes

A classic, negative example is Homer Simpson, the obese, lazy and dim-witted middle American from the animated television series The Simpsons.[24] The show itself parodies many aspects of American life, culture and society.[25] Some social stereotypes of white people include being judgemental towards other races and highly materialistic. Others include physical features such as not aging well, evidenced by wrinkles at an early age. White males are sometimes stereotypically depicted as being attracted to Asian females.

British stereotypes

The Scottish are often stereotyped as being tightfisted, argumentative, drunk and highly strung, or as having bad teeth. The potrayal of "Groundskeeper Willy" in The Simpsons is a classic example.

The English are sometimes steroetyped as being insular, suspicious of foreigners and anything not British, prudish and having a 'stiff upper lip' and with a 'little Englander' attitude.

Irish stereotypes

The cartoon above (New Physiognomy, New York, 1866), contrasts Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War nurse, with "Bridget McBruiser", the stereotypical Irish woman.
Scientific racism from an American magazine, Harper's Weekly, says that the Irish are similar to 'Negroes.'

An analysis of nineteenth-century British attitudes by Mary J. Hickman and Bronwen Walter wrote that the 'Irish Catholic' was one viewed as an "other", or a different race in the construction of the English nationalist myth. Likewise, the Irish considered the English "other" and fought hard to break away.[26]

Benign in comparison to some of the more vulgar generalizations against other ethnicities but nonetheless incorrect are those accusing the Irish as quick-tempered brawlers and alcoholics. One 19th century British cartoonist even depicted Irish immigrants as simian and racially different from Anglo-Saxons. One American doctor in the 1850s, James Redfield, argued that "facial angle" was a sign of intelligence and character; likening the physiognomies of human ethnic groups to animals. Thus Irishmen resembled dogs, Yankees were like bears, Germans like lions, blacks like elephants and Englishmen like bulls.[27] In the 20th century physical stereotypes survived in the comic books until the 1950s, with Irish characters like Mutt and Jeff, and Jiggs and Maggie appearing daily in hundreds of newspapers.[28]

Irish are also stereotypically viewed as stupid and the butt of many jokes. An example of this would be the "an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman" joke, which usually ends in the Irishman doing something stupid.

Italian stereotypes

See also Anti-Italianism about stereotypes and prejudice towards Italian people.

Polish stereotypes

See also Anti-Polish sentiment about stereotypes and prejudice towards Poles.

Jewish stereotypes

Antisemitic caricature based on racial stereotypes, 1873

Jewish people have been stereotyped throughout the centuries as scapegoats for a multitude of societal problems. Jews are still stereotyped as greedy, nit-picky, stingy misers. They have often been shown counting money or collecting diamonds. Antisemitism continued throughout the centuries and reached a climax in Nazi Germany during World War II.

Early films such as Cohen's Advertising Scheme (1904, silent) stereotyped Jews as "scheming merchants."[29]. In caricatures and cartoons they're often depicted having curly hair, large hook-noses, thick lips, and wearing kippahs. Common objects, phrases and traditions used to emphasize or ridicule Jewishness include bagels, playing violin, klezmer, circumcision, haggling and phrases like "mazal tov", "shalom" and "oy vey".

Other Jewish stereotypes are the rabbi, the complaining and guilt-inflicting Jewish mother stereotype, the spoiled and materialistic Jewish-American princess and the often meek nice Jewish boy.

Jews are often stereotyped as well-educated such as doctors, lawyers and academics, or as having a sense of humor; see Jewish humor.

In the United Kingdom many of the stereotypes normally associated with Jews are instead associated with the Scots including their tight-fistedness and the over-representation of Scots in academia, medicine politics and banking.

East Asian and South Asian stereotypes

See also Stereotypes of East Asians in the Western world such as Chinese people and Stereotypes of South Asians such as East Indians.

Hispanic/Latino stereotypes

See also Hispanophobia on fear, hatred and dislike of Latinos.

Sexual stereotypes

The British biologist, Angus John Bateman was the one who first talked about sexual stereotypes in the late 1940s. His theory would say that males are promiscuous and females tend to be more selective when choosing their sexual partners.[30] Although Bateman's principle was based on experiments made of fruitflies, later on he concluded that the theory applies also in the case of humans. His ideas were based on the fact that males presented an "undiscriminating eagerness" to mate while females displayed "discriminated passivity."

Depending on their social and educational background, people tend to have different views of sexuality and they define themselves in terms of sexuality in different manners. This is where sexual stereotypes arise from. The size of the penis is one of the most popular and ardent issues amongst men. Men define their sexual capabilities compared to what they think a great size is. In fact, studies show that a man's sexual capability has nothing to do with their organ's size.[31]

A typical stereoptype in women is the size of their breasts. Sexual stereotypes related to this concern are establishing as a fact that the perfect size is a B cup brassiere[citation needed] whereas this particular issue is a matter of personal perception.

Impact of sexual stereotypes

Living up to stereotypes can have damaging effects. Intending to live up to sexual stereotypes may lead to frustration. Stereotypes have the ability to create an idea that some are better than others based on their sexual abilities and sexual organs.[32]

According to a study made in 2000, 47% of girls surveyed said that girls and boys have the same sexual abilities and strengths while only 29% of boys agreed with the same statement. The subjects were girls from grades three to 12. The survey concluded that girls are constrained by outmoded sexual stereotypes that reduce their quality of life and lower expectations for their futures.[33]

Sexual orientation stereotypes

People with negative views of gay, lesbian, and transgender people often use stereotypes about them to justify their attacks. Sometimes, it has also fueled violence against LGBT people. According to ABC News, "Gay activists often criticize media coverage of gay pride parades, saying, correctly, that the media focus on the extreme, the more flamboyantly feminine men and very masculine women. But that's not us, they say. Most of us are just like everyone else."[34]


Gay individuals are often stereotyped as being sexually promiscuous, alcoholics, as having substance abuse problems, using cliche vocabulary, and as being wealthy. They are also stereotyped as having feminine characteristics. They are known to be interested in more sensitive things that men generally don't like such as having a love for Broadway musicals, liking pop music and dance music, having an affinity for interior decorating and fashion, having a interest in Disney, and the like.


Often characterized as either butch "dykes", or lipstick lesbians. Relationships are portrayed often as one acting male and one acting female.


Bisexual individuals are stereotyped as being sexually promiscuous and not wanting commitment. Male bisexuals are stereotyped as acting zealously homophobic but with secret homosexual tendencies which often surface when under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance. Female bisexuals are depicted as nymphomaniacs with low standards regarding sexual partners or as being "attention starved".

Gender stereotypes

Masculine gender

Feminine gender


Labels such as transgender serve both to challenge normative gender and at the same time are self stigmatizing. Individuals who do not fit the gendered binary are often stereotyped as being sexually promiscuous, sex workers, and as having drinking problems and drug addictions.

Socioeconomic stereotypes

Homeless stereotypes

Homeless individuals are stereotyped as having behavior problems, substance abuse problems, being lazy, and being dirty and/or smelly.

Working class stereotypes

Members of the working class or blue collars are stereotyped as being poorly educated or being neglectful of their education either out of laziness or because they perceive the more educated members of society as "naive" and lacking "street smarts"(See reverse snobbery). Working class males are stereotyped as placing more value on strength and athletic ability over intellect as intellectuals are perceived as being physically weak in the eyes of working class males. This is related to the "dumb jock" stereotype as jocks are often stereotyped as only being able to work blue-collar jobs later in life.

Spousal abuse and other violent crimes are also elements related to the stereotype as well as excessive alcohol consumption.

Middle and upper class

Specialised use in ethology

In ethology, stereotyped behavior or fixed action pattern is an innate, pre-programmed response that is repeated when an animal is exposed to an environmental innate releasing mechanism.

Criminal profiling

Offender profiling is a criminal investigative tool which uses details relating to a criminal's modus operandi in order to develop a detailed set of psychological characteristics of the offender.

See also

Other stereotypes


  1. ^ Ewen and Ewen, Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality, 2006, 3-10.
  2. ^ <Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage.> Springfield, Illinois: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1994. p. 250.
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  4. ^ Stereos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  5. ^ Tupos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  6. ^ Milton Kleg (August 1993). Hate Prejudice and Racism. State University of New York Press. ISBN 079141535X. 
  7. ^ a b c Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. 6. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc, 2007
  8. ^ Brewer, M (1979). "In-group bias in the minimal intergroup situation: A cognitive-motivational analysis". Psychological Bulletin 86: 307–324. doi:10.1037/.86.2.307. 
  9. ^ McAndrew, FT; Akande, A (1995). "African perceptions of Americans of African and European descent". Journal of Social Psychology 135 (5): 649–655. 
  10. ^ Steele CM, Aronson J (November 1995). "Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans". J Pers Soc Psychol 69 (5): 797–811. doi:10.1037/.69.5.797. 
  11. ^ a b Aronson J, Steele CM. (2005). Chapter 24:Stereotypes and the Fragility of Academic Competence, Motivation, and Self-Concept. In Handbook of Competence, [ p. 436].
  12. ^ Greenwald and Banaji from Psychological Review
  13. ^ Anthony Pagden, The Fall of the Natural Man: the American Indian and the origins of comparative ethnology. Cambridge Iberian and Latin American Studies.(Cambridge University Press, 1982)
  14. ^ See Paul Hazard, The European Mind ) (Cleveland, Ohio: Meridian Books [1937], [1969]): 13-14, and passim.
  15. ^ Malcolm D. Holmes and Judith A. Antell
  16. ^ Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. "Stephen King's Super-Duper Magical Negroes". Strange Horizons. 
  17. ^ Gonzalez, Susan. "Director Spike Lee slams 'same old' black stereotypes in today's films". Yale Bulletin & Calendar (Yale University). 
  18. ^ The Portrayal of Race, Ethnicity and Nationality in Televised International Athletic Events
  19. ^ Jackson Assails Press On Portrayal of Blacks (NYT)
  20. ^ Darwin's Athletes: how sport has damaged Black America and preserved the myth of race By John Milton Hoberman ISBN
  21. ^ "White Men Can't Jump": Evidence for the Perceptual Confirmation of Racial Stereotypes Following a Basketball Game Jeff Stone, W. Perry, John M. Darley. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 1997, Vol. 19, No. 3, Pages 291-306
  22. ^ The Ball Curve: Calculated Racism and the Stereotype of African American Men Ronald E. Hall Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Sep., 2001), pp. 104-119
  23. ^ Patricia J. Williams: "Racial Ventriloquism". The Nation. June 17, 1999. Retrieved June 11, 2006. 
  24. ^ Kelly Whiteside; Andy Gardiner. "USA needs to find the net". USA Today. 
  25. ^ Turner, p. 78
  26. ^ Deconstructing Whiteness: Irish Women in Britain Mary J. Hickman, Bronwen Walter Feminist Review, No. 50, The Irish Issue: The British Question (Summer, 1995), pp. 5-19 doi:10.2307/
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ Kerry Soper, "Performing 'Jiggs': Irish Caricature and Comedic Ambivalence toward Asøsimilation and the American Dream in George McManus's Bringing Up Father." Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 4.2 (2005): 72 pars. 30 Mar. 2007 online.
  29. ^ The Movies, Race, and Ethnicity: Jews
  30. ^ Sexual stereotypes International weekly journal of science. Retrieved on
  31. ^ Stereotypes about penis size Retrieved on February 25, 2010
  32. ^ The Impact of Gender Role Stereotypes Media Awareness Network.
  33. ^ Girls Resisting Sexual Stereotyping CBS Interactive. Retrieved on
  34. ^ "Gay Stereotypes: Are They True?". ABC News. September 15, 2006. 


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

A stereotype is a generalization about a group and individual members thereof, based primarily on membership in that group. Stereotypes may be positive or negative, they may be accurate or inaccurate regarding average characteristics of a group, and may be used to justify certain discriminatory behaviors.


  • Labels are for cans, not people.
    • Nick Letney
  • STEREOTYPE: A shoe designed to fit all feet within a particular ethnic or social group. When the shoe actually fits, as it sometimes will, the satisfied salesmen exchange sly winks across the room.
    • Rick Bayan, The Cynic's Dictionary
Look up stereotype in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Stereotypes are mental concepts held of particular social groups that are ascribed a set of characteristics and are perceived as being fairly homogenous (Braithwaite, Lynd-Stevenson, & Pigram, 2003).


Braithwaite, V., Lynd-Stevenson, R., & Pigram, D. (1993). An empirical study of ageism: From polemics to scientific utility. Australian Psychologist, 28, 9-15.

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