Stereotype vs Prejudice
Stereotype and Prejudice are two types of beliefs about different classes of individuals between which certain differences can be highlighted. People have stereotypic ideas about others and also hold prejudices. In the attempt to understand the world around us, people engage in forming stereotypes and even prejudices. For an example, let us take a certain professional such as a doctor or a librarian. We all have an image of the person in our mind. When we meet someone who belongs to this criterion, even without considering we put the person under the appropriate category. So we can define the idea of a stereotype as an oversimplified idea of the typical characteristics of a person. Sometimes stereotypic beliefs can be negative. When speaking of prejudice, it is an opinion that is not based on any logic or reasoning. We all have such ideas about people such as dislikes that do not have a logical or rational explanation. This article attempts to highlight the differences while elucidating the two terms.
What is Stereotype?
It is interesting to note that the word ‘stereotype’ is derived from the Greek word ‘stereos’ meaning ‘firm’ or ‘solid’. They are standardized beliefs about people based on some prior assumptions. According to psychological studies, there are a number of theories on stereotypes. One of the theories says that stereotyping is because it is too difficult to take all the complexities of other people as individuals. Another theory says that in a bid to think good about oneself people engage in stereotype. It is believed that childhood influences are indeed some of the very profound factors in developing stereotypes. As the child grows up, he begins to create ‘schemas’ or else mental shortcuts which assist the individual to deal with day today experiences in a much more effective manner. For an example, let us take the role of a teacher. From childhood itself we develop an idea of a teacher. This is an overall and a very simplified description that we hope to apply to all teachers. This allows a person to easily recognize an individual through the assistance of mental schemas. When a person does not fit into our stereotypic image, it can be very confusing for the individual. Stereotypes are quite common in cultural media, where actors perform the role of different characters.
What is Prejudice?
On the other hand, prejudice is a kind of prejudgment or assumption about somebody before having sufficient knowledge to judge with accuracy. This is primarily the difference between stereotype and prejudice. It is a conception of people based on ethnicity, race, gender, caste and the like. For this reason, prejudice refers to beliefs without sound knowledge of the facts concerned with the belief. The research that have been conducted on prejudice show that much of prejudice is based on negative feelings towards people belonging to other groups but showing favor towards people belonging to one’s groups. This is possibly developed not due to hatred though but due to admiration and trust in one’s groups. Even we have this practice. Imagine a group of students in a school. There is a high tendency for them to consider themselves as the cooler and the better students in comparison to another group. This group would view others as competitors, hence harbor negative opinions. Sometimes, unusual or undesirable notions about someone may result in prejudice too. Thus, social status is also a very important factor to be taken to affect prejudice.
What is the Difference Between Stereotype and Prejudice?
- Stereotypes are standardized beliefs about people based on some prior assumptions
- Prejudice is a kind of prejudgment or assumption about somebody before having sufficient knowledge to judge with accuracy.
- Prejudice is based on negative feelings towards people belonging to other groups but showing favor towards people belonging to one’s groups whereas in Stereotypes this characteristic cannot be seen.
1.”Minstrel PosterBillyVanWare edit” by Strobridge & Co. Lith – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/var.1831.[Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2.”Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill protest” by riekhavoc – originally posted to Flickr as uganda_action_ 414.jpg. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons