Now that you have an overview of the concepts we will cover, we will look first at stereotypes.

Stereotypes: Stereotypes are beliefs or expectations about characteristics associated with a group of people.

Stereotypes often consist of descriptions of traits, abilities and interests, physical characteristics, and expected role behaviors.

An example of gender stereotypes includes believing that woman are more likely than men to be:

Another example of gender stereotypes includes believing that men are more likely than women to be:

(Deaux & Lewis, 1984).

We know that stereotypes about gender, race, religion, sexuality, and nationality, as well as many other social categories exist throughout our society. Whether we agree with them or not, we are aware of both positive and negative stereotypes about various groups of people. At the same time that stereotypes are prevalent, there is often a secrecy that surrounds them.

ACTIVITY

This activity is designed to get stereotypes out into the open so that they can be more honestly examined. The following contains a list of different social groups and types of associations you may have with each social group.

  • Write down the types of characteristics you think are typically associated with these groups. You have been given a start with some examples for women and men but be sure to expand on the examples.
  • After you write them down, note whether they are positive or negative.
  • Also indicate whether or not you personally agree with them.

icon for printerPrint Version of Worksheet

Traits (positive and negative)

Interests and abilities

Physical characteristics

Expected role behaviors

Men

independent, arrogant good at and enjoy sports strong business managers

Women

nurturing, whiney good with and like children graceful homemakers

African Americans

Asians

Christians

Jews

Muslims

Whites

image of penReflection Questions:

  • How difficult was it for you to come up with these associations? Were some easier to generate than others?
  • Which beliefs are more likely to be endorsed than others? Which do you endorse?
  • Were there some groups you had more positive descriptions for? Were there some you had more negative descriptions for? Why do you think this is?

Regardless of our good intentions, we live in a society filled with stereotypes, and we are exposed constantly to these ideas and beliefs even when we don't agree with them. Though you may not think of them daily, these stereotypes can influence your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about individuals in different social categories.