Very often in daily life conversation we can hear the phrase: “I do not have prejudices, but….” It is important to understand that everyone has prejudices, and it is important to be able to recognize them as such and to avoid using them to dictate our behaviour towards society.
A stereotype can be defined as a widely held concept that creates an overly simplified image or idea about a particular type of persons. This can be described as classifying people based on their belonging to a particular group, based on a certain preconceived belief. A stereotype can be negative, positive, or neutral and can be based on factors such as gender, ethnicity, profession, etc. For example, it could be said that all blonde women are not smart or that all kids dislike vegetables. These kinds of ideas are not actually based on personal experience or knowledge, but rather on beliefs that exist in society. Stereotypes can evolve and become prejudices.
is an assumption or opinion, most typically an unjust attitude towards people on the basis of their identity or ascribed characteristics. Prejudices arise when we attribute these general characteristics to each member of the group, making inferences that facilitate acceptance or rejection of that individual. We could also say that stereotypes refer to the cognitive sphere whereas prejudices are within the emotional sphere and are thus more difficult to eradicate. Stereotypes and prejudices can lead to discrimination
against others. This creates barriers to social inclusion and can act as drivers of exclusion, negatively affecting the ability of those who are discriminated against to participate in society.
Prejudices and stereotypes entail a critical social relation by fostering stigmas, that is, negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours, between people and those who are targets of stigmas. While adopting a discriminating behaviour towards another we are not facing a real person but bricks of prejudices and stereotypes that have to be demolished. As a result, the victims of the wall of discrimination have their opportunities and choices altered by a vicious vision of reality.
- If you want to discover if you are affected by some prejudices and stereotypes you could participate in the Implicit Harvard Project
test and have the opportunity to assess your conscious and unconscious preferences for over 90 different topics ranging from pets to political issues, ethnic groups to sports teams.