How stereotypes affect people

Assumptions, we all make them. They help us. Yes, they do. But what happens when you assume someone’s opinions, their sexual orientation, their ability to do something, their financial status, and even their morals? Stereotypes are overgeneralized ideas of what a certain group of individuals should have in common. By stereotyping, we “assume” what a person of a certain group should or should not have as their characteristics.

There have been multiple studies that show how a stereotype can change a person’s behavior, their response to a situation, and even self-image. Stereotypes have undesirable effects on our personality development and the types of activities we do, as well as the way we live and the careers we choose.

There was a study done by Katz and Braly (1933) on Racial Stereotyping. They selected a group of people and gave them a list of characteristics that the group had to assign to a particular type of individual(s), who were differentiated based on their race. The study showed that most of the traits that indicated active lifestyle, hardworking and ambitious behaviors were assigned to white Americans. The characters that implied laziness and unprogressive behaviors were assigned to the individuals who were of African American race. In a related study, when individuals facing performance threat were given a test, it was shown that African American participants performed less well than their White American counterparts. According to Steele, stereotype threat generates “spotlight anxiety” (Steele & Aronson, 1995, p. 809), which causes emotional distress, “vigilant worry,” and “attributional ambiguity,” which can then lead to an underwhelming performance under stress situations.

In a similar study, two groups of women were selected. One group was then reminded of their Asian descent, and another was reminded of them being female, and the one reminded of their descent performed way better than the other one. The reason that came up the most for the result was stereotypical bias.

Stereotypes not only try to strip people of their individuality but also try to mold them into someone they are not. This type of bias, when applied to children, can affect their self-expression, academic success, body image, emotional health, etc. Kids learn from the people that surround them. Forcing young boys to be emotionally unavailable and young girls to be caregivers is something that when they take in their adult life causes a lot of distress not only on an individual level but also massively on a societal level. If they are taught to behave like a stereotype, they can sometimes grow up to not accept other people who do not act in the same way that they do. These things are also a big reason for the hate crimes that a specific group experiences due to stereotypical bias, whether due to their race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc.

Media also has a big role in feeding into these stereotypes that lead us to believe that this is the way of life. However, offering education free of stereotypes does not mean taking away all “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys,” such as dolls or fire trucks. Rather, it means actively encouraging children to make choices usually associated with the other gender. Children should be taught that someone’s way of talking does not describe their sexual orientation. Someone’s sexual orientation or race does not define their ideologies. Everyone deserves a chance to be someone that they want to be without fear of being judged or experiencing hate for who they are, especially when they can’t change it.

Written by – Chaarvi Dwivedi

Tumhare Sky ka Colour Koi Aur Nahi Decide Kar Sakta

– (The Sky is Pink)

The moment I came across this dialogue from the movie “The Sky is Pink”, which ultimately means that “No one has the right to decide the colour of your sky”, my mind just struck with a million thoughts and the million dreams that I see along the days with my eyes open.

“The dreams I wish of achieving,
While rising alone, the fears sometimes conquering me,
But also a different version of me facing everything with a captivating smile,
New mornings these days see a unique version of me,
The more my feet are held by shackles,
The more I wish to fly high.
Trying to break the stereotypes,
Rising and maintaining the standards,
I fight back fiercely as a lioness.
At an odd hour of the day, when you are hit by loneliness,
At an odd hour of the night, when you are hit by never-ending thoughts,
Just remember that you are strong and worthy enough to be facing all this.
There is nothing in this world that you cannot conquer.
No one can ever tell you that YOU CANT DO IT!
Don’t let anyone decide your worth
Your gender, colour, race, suggestions of society cannot decide your worth
No one can define you or put a tag on you for feeling the way you feel,
No one knows your story better than you,
No one has ever seen the silent battles you fight alone,
No one knows how many times you fell, but still, you stood up again with shaking hands and legs and with that non-shaking courage.
So, why believe in anyone else?

You need to believe in yourself and go behind the dreams you have always wished for. You will be judged a hundred times in this way by society, sometimes by your people and sometimes by strangers too.
All you need to keep in mind is that people can’t define you. Your conditions don’t define you; what defines you is the captivating spirit that you carry along, so just let not anyone make you believe that you are incapable of achieving your dreams, no matter what!
Kyuki,” Tumhare Sky Ka Colour Koi Aur Nahi Decide Kar Sakta”

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By – Payal Rohra

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