Stereotypes and Racism: A Literature Review

Stereotypes and racism may have a different meaning, but in the end they may influence one another. Stereotyping is a form of labeling, and construction of beliefs to another individual, or groups of people (Britannica). Whereas racism is the belief that race, ethnicity, and nationality form a major role in human traits and capacities. Both stereotypes and racism have a negative effect on a human being, by implicating psychological and emotional issues; which in the end can lead to death. From different perspectives on this topic the audience is able to understand the negative effects this issue may create in the future of humans’ life. To reach a better understanding of both stereotyping and racism, the following questions have been considered:
  1.  How much do stereotypes and racism influence one another?
  2. Is stereotyping judgmental or lack of exposure?
  3. What are the negative consequences of stereotyping or racism?
  4. How can society reduce stereotyping?
The following literature review will answer the questions above by stating both points of view to this topic; weather they agree to what the issue may cause, or disagree.

How much does stereotypes and racism influence one another?

            Writer Van Buren wrote about the way stereotyping leads to racism, especially through certain events that occur (Van Buren, 2006). Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attack happened, people have been labeling other people with Muslim appearance as terrorist. Once having been labeled it is hard to not be racist towards that particular person, because it is how the population begins to perceive them. Blum on the other hand says that racism is what it is and that is all, it stands on its own and the meaning of the word is very clear. Racism is just an act of thinking to be superior to others, either by culture, ethnicity, or gender (Blum, 2002).

Is stereotyping judgmental or lack of exposure?

            Asking the audience if they would believe that while stereotyping an individual would be the same as judging them, or would they just consider it lack of exposure; therefore both of the following sources approach the answer to this question from both points. While stereotyping someone, the person is automatically judging them, either by appearance, the way the person talks, or by any kind of characteristic. A woman is often undermined because of her gender, causing her to not be able to do certain things; though today the way the humanity sees women has changed compared to past decades. Chavez (2006) an author says that women are seen and said to be made to stay at home and raise a family, at times we may come to a conclusion that they are seen as just a woman or just a person (Chavez, 2006). They are clearly being stereotyped by their gender, and at times leading women to believe that being a man is better. Boucher (2010) sees it from a different perspective, he informs us about research that has been done to prove the effect that stereotyping may have on learning. He states that this research may lead us to believe that indeed stereotyping has an effect, but he then points out that girls are more likely to not do good academically in subjects like math or science. In contrast to this statement, boys do well in both these subjects, but he lets us know that girls are more reluctant to learn these subjects because of lack of exposure (Boucher, Rydell, & Rydell).

Through the use of primary research we are able to see through this graph that it mainly is judgment that leads individuals to stereotype. The following questions were asked to the audience of ages eighteen and above: What is your first impression of an Asian? What is your first impression of an African American? What is your first impression of a Mexican? What is your first impression of a White Caucasian? The four questions asked were very clear and short, made easy for the target audience to be able to understand and answer. The answers were given in a form of multiple choices some stating, small eyes, athlete, loud, and fat for example. The y-axis states the percentages that were calculated while collecting the data, and on the x-axis the audience is able to see the topic of the questions asked. Each line throughout the line graph shows the points of each percentage for each answer, varying from a, b, c, d.

What are the negative consequences to this psychological issue?

            After stereotyping a person, if the comments were negative the after effect may be negative as well. Negative comments have lead people to think of themselves as worthless, unimportant, incapable, ugly, mad, frustrated, and unsatisfied. This would later lead them to committing suicide (Goessl).  Mrs. Goessl the writer of the article gives us life examples of how a person is unable to gain a job by the psychological issues he or she may have with themselves regarding the way they feel about them (Goessl). In contrast to Goessls’ opinion Cadinu, Latrofa, Pastore, and Vaes believe differently. The authors of “United we stand, divided we fall” say that stereotyping does indeed have a negative effect on a human being, but that racism has even a greater negative effect. Because when one is stereotyped we may not pay much attention to it, or not give it much importance; whereas with racism it is very well known all throughout (Cadinu, Latrofa, Pastore, & Vaes, 2009). Racism has been a part of the United States history for many years; it has changed people’s way of living, thoughts, and many other reasons.

How can society reduce stereotyping?

            Reducing stereotyping seems impossible to be achieved, but that doesn’t stop people from believing that it can be done, that is the case with researchers Djikic, Langer, and Stapleton.  They created an assessment with several participants to see how many times they would stereotype an elderly person by giving them some photographs. By showing them the photographs multiple times they tried to see if this would lower the rate of stereotyping by creating mindfulness. In the end the assessment proves a decrease in the stereotyping, and to show the results they created a table (Djikic, Langer, & Stapleton, 2008, p.106). The table shows data collected from studies made by researchers to try and show how there could be a reduction of stereotyping by measuring speed, age, competence, and mindfulness of an elder person. The researchers chose to do the study on elderly men and women, because through some studies they found that elderly are constantly being stereotyped by their appearance of old. 

Another way to reduce stereotyping is by not creating misconceptions, because it opens up a diversity of opinions that can harm others (Goessl).

            In conclusion four questions were asked through the extent of this literature review, in order to have a better understanding of stereotypes and racism. The questions asked through the review were, how much does stereotypes and racism influence one another? Is it judgmental or lack of exposure? What are the negative consequences to this psychological issue? How can society reduce stereotyping? The reader is able to see various points of view through each question, and may have a better understanding of this psychological issue.