Why Do People Use Stereotypes?

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People use stereotypes to organize vast amounts of information in order to put people into useful categories. Avoid creating rigid stereotypes that do not allow for individual variations with help from a psychologist in this free video on stereotypes.

Part of the Video Series: Friendships & Relationships
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Reka Morvay, I'm a psychologist and I'm going to talk to you today about why people use stereotypes. Stereotypes are really just categories that people use to organize the vast amount of information that is coming at them. So it might be useful for you to be able to categorize let's say apples and pears both as fruit because you know that fruit as a category is tasty food that has lots of fructose and sugar and usually tastes sweet and is very good for you nutritionally. So this is just a category and it doesn't mean that you are prejudiced one way or another against a pear or against an apple, however if people overuse these categories, so they're too rigid about the categories that they use and they don't allow for individual variations within those categories and of course if we use these categories to categorize our peers so our fellow man, then these categories can become prohibitive because then you pay too much attention to the category and too little attention to the individual variation which can be very great. So it can be a very useful category for example to say women are usually smaller than men and usually have smaller frames with less muscle mass. If you're then prejudice then say well this means that women cannot ever become boxers or fire fighters because they're not physically fit then this is a stereotype because your category is too rigid to allow for individual variation.


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