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A stereotype (from Greek: stereo + týpos = "solid impression", apparently) is a thought or idea that says that all members of a group share some unrelated trait in common. Common examples include "all black men dance well," "all Asians drive poorly," and "all homeschoolers are Christian wingnuts." It differs from "archetype" in that the latter is a model to follow rather than a (correct or otherwise) perception. It differs from genotype in that there's nothing you can really do about that one.
Stereotypes are most often encountered when dealing with discrimination, particularly racism, sexism, and homophobia. A persistent stereotype in the population leads to preconceptions which may be wrong, but are difficult to shake off even when it is clearly shown to be wrong.
 Use of stereotypes
Stereotyping is often used in advertising. Sometimes this is done harmlessly; other times it elicits many complaints, resulting in a scandal of some sorts. This can be done intentionally to increase exposure, although it is risky. In the short time or space offered by an advert, the advertiser often needs to get a story or point across without wasting time on introducing concepts or characters. The ballsy mother-in-law or the inept bank manager can be shown and the viewing public can quickly and easily apply a personality to the character in the advert. This works equally in films where a director or writer may not want to waste too much time on explaining who is the "good guy" and who is the "bad guy" (i.e., "let's just get to the giant robots fighting, already!"), so they lapse into using and playing up to stereotypes; the corrupt corporate executive who puts profits over people, the military hardass with zero compassion or establishing the token smart guy by dropping either "CalTech" or "MIT" into the conversation early on. In some respects, this is a legitimate use of stereotypes, albeit unimaginative and liable to be blasted by critics and social scientists who see such exploitation as reinforcement of social norms.
 Stereotypes of science
A less uncommon stereotype is seen with anti-intellectualism. At the core of anti-intellectual stereotyping is the idea of scientists being partially insane, white-coat wearing, liberal scum who make sweeping didactic statements of fact that can change at any moment. Conservapedia's article on Professor values is a prime example of this activity. Other stereotypes are that "science" spends its time working on ridiculous things, or proving the blatantly obvious. This is seen often when newspapers report a so-called "common sense" finding and commentators go on about how it was blatantly obvious and a shameful waste of tax-payers money.
 What it isn't
It should be remembered that it's not really a "stereotype" if the trait being stereotyped is actually part of the definition of that group. To say that "all Christians believe in Christ" would not be a stereotype; however, to say that "all Christians are God-bothering, preachy freaks" would be a stereotype as it has some basis in fact but doesn't describe all the Christians.
When a stereotype is based on fact, and the "all" changed to "most" or "tends to", it really becomes a trend/archetype rather than a stereotype, such as "most women tend to have longer hair" or "people from Africa usually have darker skin" or "bears have a tendency to shit in the woods."
 Examples of Stereotypes
Note that even "positive" stereotypes can have ill effects.
- All Jews are money hungry.
- All Mexicans are illegal immigrants.
- All Asian people are intelligent.
- All Asians know some form of martial arts.
- All Asian parents are obsessed with academic success.
- All heavy metal fans are obsessed with picky sub-sub-sub-genres.
- All scientists are atheists.
- All atheists are "evolutionists." Similarly, all evolutionists are atheists.
- All Muslims are Jihadists.
- All Buddhists are peaceful.
- All Dutchmen are drug addicts.
- All African American men can run fast, jump high and have large ...lips.
- All African American men are slow, stupid and will rob you at razor point, given the chance.
- All RationalWiki editors are immature nerds. (Ok, you might have us there.)
 Stereotype threat
Stereotype threat is a psychological phenomenon in which people suffer from anxiety due to the belief that they are confirming a stereotype about their particular social group. This is known to have an effect on things such as performance on standardized testing.
 Implicit association
Stereotyping can be explicit (i.e., consciously adopted as a belief) or implicit (learned by association). The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is used to gauge stereotyping in subjects, for example, by asking them to associate male or female gender to certain words or objects. Some media reporting seems to imply that you can discover how bigoted you are by taking the IAT. However, the test cannot predict how you as an individual will act, it can only predict trends in the larger population, much like how not everyone with a high Body-Mass Index is actually obese. Use of the test in determining specific forms of discrimination has also been criticized -- critics note that the test more likely measures the similar but distinct phenomenon of in-group and out-group effects than specific stereotypes, per se.
 See also
- ↑ In fact, most stories like these are either from PR-reviewed material, or are misrepresentations of the research.
- ↑ Yes, even the ones who stay in Mexico.
- ↑ To be fair, this one has a massive basis in fact.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Stereotype threat.
- ↑ Project Implicit (includes research and experimental demonstrations)
- ↑ This headline in The Guardian for example: Are you prejudiced? Take the Implicit Association Test
- ↑ Does the Implicit Association Test (IAT) Really Measure Racial Prejudice? Probably Not, Scott Barry Kaufman, Psychology Today