Is Stereotyping a Natural Cognitive Process? This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 8, 2010
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At some point in our lives, we may have been stereotyped in some way, shape, or form. Convention has brought us to believe that stereotypes are terrible, horrible, and destroy our humanity. However, most stereotypes are based on actual behavior of certain groups in question.

As Mr. Kamal stated in his letter, “stereotypes can be used viciously against someone to hurt them.” Stereotyping can hurt feelings and destroy morale. It can harm a person’s sense of being and worth. It can harm national pride and erode unity. Stereotyping only does this when taken too far, when the stereotype has been held to in the face of logic and opposing facts.

However, many stereotypes aren’t harmful. Some stereotypes are simple generalizations of a certain group of people. Stereotyping can help guide our actions around unfamiliar cultures to avoid offence. In some cases it may help us in the business world. Associates can make quick generalizations of their clientele to gain trust and help sway the client’s opinion. Stereotyping in moderation may help prevent or resolve conflict. A man may choose to change what he says to his wife based upon the stereotype of an angry woman. Two friends may change what they talk about based upon where one friend is from.

There is no way to completely ban stereotyping. It is impossible. To change the way a human mind thinks is a monumental task. People naturally make cognitive assumptions based upon facts and previous experiences. This ability to make generalizations is part of what makes us human. “It is an integral part of human intellect… the ability to notice and extrapolate patterns in seemingly unpredictable and inconsistent chaos. Every scientific hypothesis is a presupposition, a prejudice that gets proven or dis-proven in scientific experimentation… they are formed when we take many separate observations and induce a connection that may or may not exist; and we often utilize the irrational imagination to derive testable rationalizations and connections” (CogitoErgoCogitoSum).

Science is driven by thought. Without making an observation, without making a generalization about some fact or form of life, human kind wouldn’t be able to progress. A hypothesis is merely an assumption based upon an observed fact or a previous experience. A stereotype is merely an assumption based upon an observed fact or a previous experience. Stereotyping is a form of progress. The very act of stereotyping helps us develop our cognitive skills of reasoning. “Forming a stereotype is like forming hypothesis, you are only wrong if: you assume that it is true without testing it, refuse to test the theory altogether, refuse to accept its fallaciousness after its been tested, or if you refuse to accept variance exists by assuming universal law. Aside from that, no one can be faulted for forming opinions and extrapolating subjective truths from the patterns they observe” (CogitoErgoCogitoSum).

Stereotyping harms us only when we refuse to accept irrefutable proof of fallacious thinking on our behalf. It harms us only when we refuse to adapt and grow. Stereotyping and generalizing helps determine the way we act; it lays precedent to what we say. Stereotyping is a real cognitive process that is natural for humans to undertake in.



Works Cited
CogitoErgoCogitoSum. "Why Prejudice and Stereotyping is good". Wordpress. Feb 08, 2010 <http://cogitoergocogitosum.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/why-prejudice-and-stereotyping/>.
Kamal. "Stereotypes: Do They Affect You?". TeenInk. Feb 08, 2010 <http://www.teenink.com/opinion/discrimination/article/82236/Stereotypes-Do-They-Affect-You/>.





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Anna F. said...
Feb. 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm
I'm not usually one for reading OR writing essays, but I really think you have something big to say. What a way to look at the stereotyping of stereotypes! Very good.
 
This*Lit*Is*Bananas This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Wow, this is so great. I've seen a lot of articles about stereotyping on TeenInk think this is the best one I've read. I like how you clearly laid out all your justifications and made it easy to understand where you were coming from. I love it! :)
 
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