Stereotypes are everywhere. Every person has either been a victim of them or observed them first hand. They can apply to gender, race, a group of people, and many other things. Some examples of cliche stereotypes include women aren’t as smart as men, all Asians are good at math, blondes aren’t smart, and so many more. Stereotypes are commonly perceived as negative, but everyone can have them because they naturally categorize what a person may feel is dangerous or uncomfortable. The big question is: what causes stereotypes?
Stereotypes are caused by several things which include the media, early influences, and environment. The effects of these stereotypes can cause mistaken perceptions. The media is one of the strongest enforcers of stereotypes. Almost everyone is exposed to the media, let alone influenced by it. Stereotypes can be derived from music, movies, the news, sports, and numerous other media based ways. Movies show many stereotypes. Some examples include Muslims being portrayed as terrorists, Asians knowing kung-fu, blondes not being smart, and countless other stereotypes.
When people see these stereotypes over and over again in movies, it’s inevitable that it will cause people to believe some of the stereotypes being shown. Music is also factor in stereotypes. People may say that all rappers are arrogant gangsters with a lot money, or that all country music songs sound the same. These judgments can be made by only listening to a small sample of these types of music, when in reality nobody can prove that every single song falls into that category. News is another of one of the big media based causes of stereotypes.
The main stereotype shown in news is that most criminals are of a minority race. This can cause people to inherit the stereotype that most minorities are criminals. Overall, the media has a huge influence on causing stereotypes for its viewers. Stereotypes can be instilled in a person at an early age. Parents always tell their children not to hang around specific groups of people. A child may have a bad experience with another kid and start to stereotype everyone in that other child’s group. This may cause the child to distance themselves from this group and prejudice may happen.
Young children are also very gullible. When they are told false information about a certain group by their family, friends, etc. there’s a high chance they will believe it and inherit it as they grow older. Even in higher grades stereotypes can be present. In middle school and high school, almost every student is a part of a specific group. If a student isn’t into another groups characteristics, stereotypes can start to appear. For instance, a student can stereotype a Goth group for being depressed, dark, dress weird, etc. just because how they appear on the outside.
The same principles can be applied to any other group in school. The last thing that can cause stereotypes is the environment the person is around. If a person lives or visits an area with a high population of people in the same group, stereotypes will definitely be present. For example, if someone visits Beverley Hills and only sees rich Caucasian people, anyone can begin to think that that’s the only type of people that live there. On the flip side, someone can go to an area struggling with poverty seeing only minorities and think the same thing.
These environmental stereotypes can apply to any group. After talking about the many causes of stereotypes, one may ask them self what are the effects of having stereotypes? There are many ramifications of always having a negative stereotype. One example can shown through the media’s portrayal of models. Since models are stereotypically slim, young women may develop self esteem issues because they don’t feel beautiful if they’re not skinny like the portrayed models. Stereotypes may also make a person unnecessarily hostile towards a specific group.
If someone stereotypes a specific minority into being criminals, they can wrongly blame this group for things they didn’t do. In conclusion, stereotypes are caused by so many things. People can be influenced easily. Thankfully our generation is moving in the right direction to discourage stereotyping (especially racially), but there are still many stereotypes out there. The effects of these stereotypes can negatively impact a person’s life. It’s always good to remember that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.