Some argue that labels are critical to language and communication. Labeling is describing someone or something in a short phrase or word. Labels can be used to represent good things, and help characterize people and things. All languages use labels, because without them it would be very difficult to describe certain people or things. When explaining what someone looks like its almost impossible to not use labels. Short, tall, skinny, fat, longhaired, pretty, etc., are all labels. Without these types of labels we would have to use exact information to describe what a person looks like, instead of using a word or short phrase. Labels help simplify our social world, by reducing the amount of processing we do when meeting a new person
The problem with labels is that they are based on assumptions. Labels are judgmental, and are created by opinions and beliefs. We willingly accept these labels as statements without evidence of them being true. These assumptions become stereotypes, which can become put-downs. Everyone is exposed to some form of labeling and stereotypes throughout his or her life. Labels quickly lead to name-calling and verbal abuse. Stereotypes are often based on race but can also refer to intelligence, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc. Most stereotypes are intended to give off a negative impression. Social categorization is developed from labels and stereotypes, which is a big reason for prejudice attitudes. Stereotypes are so common that it is likely to not even recognize them when they occur in everyday life. There are positive stereotypes, but negative stereotypes seem far more common. . A disadvantage to labels is that they make us ignore the difference amongst individuals, causing us to believe what isn’t necessarily true.
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