Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Stereotypes are as old as human culture itself. They reflect ideas that groups of people hold about others who are different from them.

A stereotype can be embedded in single word or phrase (such as, "jock" or "nerd"), an image, or a combination of words and images. The image evoked is easily recognized and understood by others who share the same views.

Stereotypes can be either positive ("black men are good at basketball") or negative ("women are bad drivers"). But most stereotypes tend to make us feel superior in some way to the person or group being stereotyped. Stereotypes ignore the uniqueness of individuals by painting all members of a group with the same brush.

Stereotypes can appear in the media because of the biases of writers, directors, producers, reporters and editors. But stereotypes can also be useful to the media because they provide a quick identity for a person or group that is easily recognized by an audience. When deadlines loom, it's sometimes faster and easier to use a stereotype to characterize a person or situation, than it is to provide a more complex explanation.

Irish Stereotype

Stereotype - Irish presented in 19th century

Stereotype - Drinking

Stereotype - drink Guinness for breakfast

Stereotype - eat potatoes, bacon and cabbage

Stereotype - all called Paddy or Marry

Stereotype - very holy and devout Catholics

Stereotype - always wearing green accessories

Stereotype - wearing Aran sweaters

Stereotype - believe in Leprechauns

Stereotype - great singers and dancers

Stereotype - live in vee cottages

Stereotype - more sheep than people

Stereotype - Irish cailin with red hair

Stereotype Threat

Recent work suggests that stereotype threat (ST) harms performance by reducing available working memory capacity. Is this the only mechanism by which ST can occur?

Introducing a negative stereotype about a social group in a particular domain can reduce the quality of performance exhibited by members of that group (Steele, 1997).

For example, when negative stereotypes are activated, African Americans perform worse on tasks described as assessing intelligence (e.g., Steele & Aronson, 1995),
Whites perform worse on tasks described as assessing natural athletic ability (e.g., Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, & Darley, 1999), and women perform worse on math-related tasks (e.g., Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). Although the prevalence of stereotype threat effects has been
widely demonstrated across many diverse social groups and task types, relatively less is known about the cognitive processes that underlie these effects (Wheeler & Petty, 2001). That is, how does activating a negative performance-related stereotype lead to less-than-optimal skill execution among members of the stereotyped group?

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