What are some real life examples of stereotyping?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Stereotypes are pretty much everywhere in society. Most of us are guilty of resorting to them at one point or another. One of the more innocuous examples would be that people who wear glasses are intelligent. By the same token, those blessed with good looks and sporting prowess tend not...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Stereotypes are pretty much everywhere in society. Most of us are guilty of resorting to them at one point or another. One of the more innocuous examples would be that people who wear glasses are intelligent. By the same token, those blessed with good looks and sporting prowess tend not to be considered very bright. Though in most high schools, those students considered physically attractive and/or good at sports tend to be the most popular. So this is an example of how stereotypes can often cut both ways.

On a much more serious level, stereotypes can do genuine harm to people. African-American males, for instance, are often stereotyped as being criminals, not just by society, but by the criminal justice system and law-enforcement agencies. A number of tragic police shootings of unarmed black men have highlighted the very real dangers that stereotyping can pose.

History also provides us with numerous examples of stereotyping that have led to suffering on an appalling scale. The most obvious of these would be the Holocaust. For years, Jews had been subjected to stereotyping; they were regarded as devious, cunning, and obsessed with making money. Such an inaccurate stereotype became hard to shift and generated considerable hatred and resentment towards the Jewish people. It didn't take much for the Nazis to exploit this stereotype for all it was worth and use it as a justification to murder six million Jews in Europe.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Stereotyping can take many forms. The age old example is the dumb blond joke. It is ludicrous to say that the color of someones hair has anything to do with their intellectual capacity. Of course, many blonde's are highly intelligent. From a criminal justice perspective, the act of stereotyping is rampant. Unfortunately, many professionals in this area stereotype suspects related to criminal activity or the potential for criminal activity. One's race, age, or neighborhood does not make them guilty of committing a crime but law enforcement agencies and officers tend to stereotype and associate certain races with certain types of criminal activity. This is a dangerous practice because investigators of crimes tend to develop tunnel vision and fail to consider other aspects of the criminal enterprise.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team