Stereotypes are the organizational factors that virtually shape the way we think in 20th century America. They somehow manage to categorize some of lifes most complex matters into nice distinct sections. Classifications and organization, at first glance seem to be useful in distinguishing various aspects of modern life. However, these grouping methods can be very inaccurate, leaving erroneous ideas in the minds of citizens on a global level. Stereotypes, though originating as convenient sorting mechanisms, instead, influence our thinking process. By instituting broad categories, establishing virtually immovable terms, and, often, being mistakenly identified as facts, stereotypes affect the mental process of humans.
Originally used as an organizational tool, stereotypes were simply broad generalizations about subject matters. These ideas werent necessarily meant to cause the feelings of anger that they do today, but to classify ideas. However, possibly the most apparent problem with stereotypes is that the sort very intricate subject matter into large, broad categories. For example, human beings are too complex to use generalizations like, all blondes are dumb or all smart people are nerds. Stereotypes use wide terms, to simplify subject matter, but this attempt often ends in an inaccurate result.
Despite their wide generalizations, stereotypes establish virtually immovable terms. For example, Third World countries were hastily grouped together not because of social or economic similarities, but out of convenience. Since that time, the industrialized nations have harbored this stereotype that the third world is land of starving children and savage tribes. Despite decades of vast improvement, this stereotype remains unchanged. This rigid stereotype has caused many citizens to embrace a false view of the Third World nations and its citizens.
Stereotypes, clearly, should not be mistaken for factual information. Although there may be a certain amount of truth to the statement, the generalization is often inaccurate. Unfortunately, many people believe this information to be not only truthful, but factual. Since most Americans have not visited a Third World country, they believe many misconceptions to be true. In reality, these stereotypes are often wrong. They may apply in some instances, but they should not be considered factual.
Through establishing broad categories, creating immovable terms, and being mistakenly identified as facts, stereotypes often place inaccurate ideas in the peoples minds. They have a huge impact on the thought process and ideas. As increasingly more and more people become aware of this error, many of the stereotypes we now embrace will become obsolete.
Lane, Charles. Lets Abolish the Third World. Thinking Globally. Andrew E. Robson.
McGraw-Hill: United States of America, 1997. 155 160.