What is a stereotype?

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Sociology ・APA ・4 Sources

A stereotype is a view about a group of individuals that has no scientific basis but affects how a person sees and analyzes communication. Stereotyping is an oversimplified attitude that people take toward others (Operario & Fiske, 2004). People that advocate stereotyped beliefs believe they are superior and distinct from others on the issues at hand. As a result, a stereotype is a feature that divides people into groups based on specific qualities that may or may not represent reality. Among these categories are racial profiling, religion, sexual orientation, sex, age, and physical abilities. The controversial and predominant forms of stereotyping include sex and race (Operario & Fiske, 2004). This paper looks into how stereotyping affects interpersonal relations and communication.

Stereotyping often leads to a lack of empathy and bias when a person is in communication with another person. As such, the effect of stereotyping on communication mostly in workplaces and learning institutions is through stereotype threat (Beebe, Beebe & Redmond, 2009). As such, stereotype threat is a situation where an individual fails to communicate to the best of his/her abilities dues to the feeling of self-conscious about perceived minority status. For instance, a woman may fail to speak up when in a group of men due to stereotype threat, and as such, there will be ineffective communication. Besides, a stereotype threat affects communication as it fosters negative subtext and hinders an open flow of information between individuals.

Besides, stereotyping has an adverse effect on communication as people make a pre-conceived judgment about others. The judgments are in most cases, unfounded if their characters do not relate to their appearances (Liu, Volcic & Gallois, 2014). Stereotyping also involves social perceptions, that is, how people view the society and the world. The perceptions entail complex processes of trying to understand others instilling impressions into people hence develop judgments. In some cases, the process often goes beyond the actual tangible information, to exaggerate and deduce information that people get through interference and hence affect communication.

Stereotyping leads to the various form of negative feelings to the affected as it is both hurtful and wrong. The bullying effect of stereotyping formed at an early age when a child grows may be carried on to adulthood hence affecting their personal and social relationships (Hummert et al., 2004). Furthermore, stereotyping adversely affects interpersonal relationships as it leads people to live lives driven by hate as well as making the victims of the stereotypes live in fear and as such make life very uncomfortable for them. The hate and fear make it difficult for people to communicate effectively, share ideas and solve problems as a society bur rather facilitate suspicious relationships between people and groups.

In addition, stereotyping affects interpersonal relations among individuals as it psychologically influences individuals' character. Negative stereotypes may lead to aggression hence affecting such relationships. Besides, it may promote lack of self-control and difficulty in making rational decisions hence affecting the effectiveness of communication and interpersonal relations among different or diverse individuals.

In conclusion, a stereotype is a belief about a group of people with no scientific basis but rather based on perceptions and assumptions. It is an aspect that categorizes people into groups based on particular characteristics, which may or may not reflect reality. Stereotyping entails an oversimplified attitude that individuals have toward other people. It affects interpersonal relations and communication by facilitating the lack of empathy and bias, pre-conceived judgment about others, negative feelings, hate, fear, and aggression among others.


Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2009). Interpersonal communication. Pearson Custom Pub..

Hummert, M. L., Garstka, T. A., Ryan, E. B., & Bonnesen, J. L. (2004). The role of age stereotypes in interpersonal communication. Handbook of communication and aging research, 2, 91-114.

Liu, S., Volcic, Z., & Gallois, C. (2014). Introducing intercultural communication: Global cultures and contexts. Sage.

Operario, D., & Fiske, S. T. (2004). Stereotypes: Content, Structures, Processes, and Context.

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