- stereotypes are templates through which we see and evaluate people
- prejudices are stereotypes with negative evaluation
- through classification and demarcation of groups we define our self-esteem
- children learn stereotypes from their environment consciously and unconsciously
- stereotypes limit the developmental potential of children
- Happy Jona helps parents break out of the stereotype cycle
Overview of topic:
What are Stereotypes?
Stereotype and Prejudice
Stereotype and self-esteem
Effects of stereotypes on children
What are stereotypes?
The origin of the word ´stereotype´ lies in French letterpress printing. It denoted the print with fixed fonts1. So it was a kind of template.
Even in the socio-psychological use of the term one could say that stereotypes are templates through which we see and evaluate people. We use a single characteristic, such as gender, socio-economic or ethnic background, age or occupation to determine the group to which we assign an individual and stereotypes of that group give us a full picture which we assign to the individual. This way we don´t have to form an individual picture of a person which would demand way more effort. This way we also get a lot of things wrong, because not all people within a group share the same characteristics and our beliefs are not based on facts. Such a process is unconscious. We do not even notice it. Our opinions and expectations are simply formed hiding a lot of prejudices.
Stereotypes are characterized by the fact that they are shared by a large part of the population which makes the individual feel confirmed in her beliefs. Such a stereotype-template forms itself slowly and lastingly. As a rule, stereotypes do not emerge from nothing, but pick up existing behavioural potential and transform it2.
Stereotype and self-esteem
Now there are not only foreign groups. We feel that we belong to some groups ourselves while separating from others. We identify with characteristics of the groups to which we belong. If we believe the stereotypes attaches to those groups, we also identify with them. This is how we define our self-image and give stereotypes a relevant influence on our self-esteem. We like to associate positive qualities with our own group and thus increase our self-esteem. However, we also increase our self-esteem by judging other groups negatively. That is where the motivation comes from to devalue other groups.
Reality TV shows usually rely on exactly these instincts. The viewer condemns the actors, feels sublime and better than them. Thus he can strengthen his own self-esteem for the moment. Especially people with lower self-esteem sacrifice their precious leisure time for this short-term, pleasant feeling. Another example is the behavior of some Republicans in the USA. They play down events that violate their own values and one wonders why they do so. One factor is probably that they don’t see accusations against the president as a result of an individual’s behavior. They regard negative feedback as an attack against their party and thus on their personal self-esteem. This would at least explain why they not only accept, but justify behaviour violating their own value system.
Stereotype and prejudice
Stereotypes therefore influence expectations and evaluations and thus our behaviour towards groups of people. They can be positive, negative or value neutral.
Now people tend to revalue their own group and to devalue other groups3. A prejudice is a negative attitude towards all or most members of a group based on stereotypes and views about the members of that group4. So we tend to build prejudices against other people’s groups. The solution is to make sure that groups do not remain alien.
If stereotypes and their prejudices are now widespread, this means that the affected groups of people are constantly confronted with the same stereotypes imposed on them. It is also colloquially said that “one is put in a drawer”. As a consequence the chances of the individual change in comparison to others. If for example everybody expects of you to be a terrible cook, you might not get a lot of chances to cook for other people. At this point we touch discrimination which we deal with in an extra article » here.
Effects of stereotypes on children
Children try to find their place in the world. They are dependent on help and the signals of their environment. So they try to learn as soon as possible what is appropriate for them and what is not. Kids absorb every detail and build a network of information. As soon as patterns emerge for them, small children build up very rigid stereotypes. Only at the age of seven do children reach a cognitive capacity that enables them to form more flexible views5.
Existing stereotypes influence the child’s further perception. It understands information aligning with the built stereotypes as further confirmation whereas information that does not match is sometimes ignored or given little weight in the overall picture.
Some stereotypes have become firmly established in the world and therefore can also be found in parents’ self-image. They pass on stereotypes to their children, especially the ones they are strongly convinced of, which happens partly consciously, partly unconsciously.
For example, many things are forbidden for boys with the argument that “it is only for girls”. This way parents exclude boys from the group of girls. Often the criterium is actually non-factual, like color. Color have no congenital base and are purely learned. Parents have to be aware of the effect of devaluation that comes with exclusion.
Unconsciously, you set an example for the children. Children notice when their parents behave differently towards people. If they recognize a pattern (Daddy is rather reserved with every person with characteristic X), they adopt stereotypes over time, including an evaluation of that group of people. Many parents are unaware that they attribute certain interests and talents to their children and treat them differently based on their own stereotypical expectations.
The more restrictive the expectations of a child are, the more its development potential is limited. The child then has little space to find out and train its true interests and talents. The ultimate consequence is that we limit the potential of our society.
Happy Jona helps parents break down the negative influence of stereotypes and offer their children a more open and better future:
- build knowledge
- perform self-reflection
- act deliberately
- correct stereotypes => break circle
We go through all the studies of the world and prepare the knowledge for parents – easy to understand, fast to consume and free of charge. Knowledge is power! Only when you have made up your own mind about all the interrelationships can you discover your own stereotypes. Then one automatically enters the phase of self-reflection and begins to act more consciously.
You can’t control all the influences on the kids. But above all, parents can consciously talk to their children about experiences and assessments as well as expose them to new experiences that broaden their worldview. To easily find products that will teach your children the important values, have a look at the Happy Jona Shop!
» next topic:
- duden.de, Abruf 9.7.2019
- Bischof-Köhler “Von Natur aus anders” 2006, S. 340Esses, Haddock & Zanna, 1993
- Esses, Haddock & Zanna, 1993
- Hippel, Sekaquaptewa & Vargas, 1995
- Bernd Six “Stereotype in der Sozialpsychologie” 2016, p 87