Social psychologists have identified stereotyping and the formation of it as playing an important role in the developing of prejudice. Stereotypes are used throughout society and this essay will show that they can be exceedingly harmful. Prejudice is a negative attitude people form about others, often a group of people that differ from themselves. Prejudice can be defined as a preconceived opinion or bias. It is possible that a preconceived opinion might be harmless however they are often disparaging and derogatory. An example of a preconceived opinion might also be termed a stereotype. An illustration of a stereotype would be: ‘all French people wear berets’. The stereotypical image of a French person wearing a beret would be common to most people despite it being inaccurate, and if you were to walk along the streets of Paris, the majority of people would look no different to the people walking the streets of London. However this stereotype has become ingrained in many people’s minds and is used in comedy shows and pictures on a regular basis. One definition of stereotyping is defined by Taguiri (1969; cited in Goss 1992, p.482) ‘The general inclination to place a person in categories according to some easily and quickly identifiable characteristics such as age, sex, race, ethnic membership, nationality or occupation, and then to attribute to him qualities believed to be typical to members of that category’. From this quote we can learn that it is easy to stereotype and to put someone in a neat little category. It can often make us feel better about ourselves if we are not part of a particular group and therefore cannot be categorised as ‘one of them’. There are three perspectives psychologists have when looking at prejudice. One theory is psychoanalytical. This Theory is Freudian and is related to childhood experiences. If a person is brought up being taught stereotypes and sees their parent’s prejudices then they are likely to...
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