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Culture and its role in Attitude Formation

Write about thr Analysis of the Merits and Demerits of Stereotypes.
 

Human beings have the tendency to stereotype. In truth, stereotypes skew important life outcomes and decisions such as lifelong partners, education and hiring of employees. A stereotype can be directed towards a person or a group of people. By definition, a stereotype refers to a set of ideas or attitudes towards a particular person or a particular group of people. These ideas and attitudes are more often than not, wrong and misguided. To understand how stereotypes are formed, it is important to discern attitudes, culture along with socialization. This essay will therefore critically analyze the various factors leads to stereotypes while at the same time outline the merits and demerits of stereotypes.

Among the elements that influence on attitude, formations are the cultures we are raised in, our families, friends, early conditioning, the norms among our friends and social groups and the lived experiences (Pranit 2010). Culture significantly contributes towards our attitudes towards other people in the society. As stated by Pranit 2010, culture defines the kind of experiences on is likely to go through and the values and attitudes that will be instilled in us. In a family setting, the parents play a pronounced role in the formation of a child’s attitudes. And this can be looked at from two different perceptive. One is the imitation; the extent to which a child emulates their parents. Two is assimilation as the process by which a child adapts to the culture socialized in. Stereotypes that are strongly endorsed by members of a culture are likely to be taken up by an individual. Unfortunately once ingrained in a child, they may be difficult to overcome.

We are social beings. The presence of other people in our lives appears to shape expectation. From the very first point of contact in our family settings, we are socialized (Thornham & Marris, 2011). After infancy, we are socialized through the immediate family member- brothers and relatives. Later as one grows so does the social group. Institutions, friends, and workmates then socialize us. The values, beliefs and “proper behavior” direct the expectations and behavior towards every particular unique situation. Stereotypes gathered form socialization could be positive or negative. Stereotypes generalize patterns and typify individuals and groups. We adjust our behavior to fit the expectations the role one plays in our adaptation of a social role. Whereas the social ordering of realities stressed a society are often historical in nature, Berger and Luckmann stressed on the power position in the society. They raised the idea that the person with authority in a particular situation has the power to impose a stereotype of individuals. This could be the government of the day, the immediate family, an institution or the media.

The Influence of Socialization on Stereotypes

According to Pranit, 2010, a person’s predisposition to respond to objects/ people in their environment in either a favorable or unfavorable manner is referred to as attitude. An individual’s attitude has the overall capacity to condition a negative or positive stereotype. Commonly individuals are able to rationalize their stereotypes in situations where they feel that they need to be superior. For instance, the stereotype that women are nurturing, caring and kind while men are powerful, driven, and agentic is likely to be used to justify inequality. Correlation between attitude and stereotypes can be looked at from the three components of attitude. With certainty, the cognitive component provides knowledge on beliefs and how an individual’s mind processes, stored, and retrieves information about their social environment and how the latter affects the stereotypes one may have (Kashima 2013).

A more critical approach to attitude is the affective component. This stems from a person’s own emotional component about an individual, a situation or an object. The final component is the behavioral component, which springs from the intent to behave in a particular way. For instance a person’s stereotype about the focal person, object or situation can be rooted in a past experience that was likely negative. Sequel to the negative experience a person may develop a general stereotype about the object or person of focus based on the experience.

Ideas raised by Lipmann noted that stereotypes are shortcuts since they are effortlessly easy to form of characterization. Nonetheless, the notions in stereotypes condense a substantial amount of information into a buzzing confusion of realities and concoctions (Lippmann 2011). Though often observed as “simple to process”, the stereotypes are deceptive. For instance, in a racial context, stereotypes that all black people are athletic. It implies a direct link between being black and athletic. Stereotypes have the ability to invoke a consensus. They have the ability to portray that the popular majority arrived at a concept of which that is obviously not true.

Of paramount importance is to note that stereotypes do not only instantly outline what is generally acceptable and legitimate behavior but also maps out division lines (Berger & Luckmann 2011). In the real sense, these boundaries should be non-existent. Social category stereotypes are the most miss-informed. A clear illustration is that you cannot categories a person just by looking at them. Over and above that, the role of stereotypes to draw boundaries is the reason why drinking is associated with harm whereas such lines are non-existent.

The Correlation Between Attitudes and Stereotypes

Other people argue that stereotypes do not allow individual thinking. It does not extend an allowance for exceptions. Just because one has had several bad experiences with person X from a particular race or tribe, it does not mean that every other person M, Z, and X is the same. Generalizations are simple and useful in escaping having to learn each individual and categorize them.

While stereotypes hold a negative connotation, it is in some situations truthful in the general behavior of a group of people. According to Professor Dale Nance of Case Western Reserve University, stereotypes may be derived based on statistics even though they are not universally bona fide. He goes on to further note that the generalization can help in making better decisions. We should not ignore an accurate generalization, he states. The difference between an accurate and an inaccurate generalization is the context (Nance 2016). David also seems to share the same view that generalization is not all bad. It all depends on how they are rolled out in our social networks. Within the bounds of limited time where a situation requires snap judgment, a stereotype can be very useful. It may also come off as helpful when you are required to respond appropriately to new people. To some extent, the stereotypes make it easier for people to make contact with the world. The world is full of complex sets of information and disintegrating that information can be difficult task. Stereotypes simplify this process (Tobin 2007). When in an unfamiliar situation it is easy to gravitate to perceptions familiar to us and thus react according to our perceptions. Lastly, the main agenda of stereotypes is to characterize people into one group, this may enable one to have a sense of belonging and identity.

Another area where stereotypes may be applicable is gender role allocation. While at times biased, women are known to poses more organizational, hygiene and multitasking abilities. They, therefore, may be tasked along this line, however, this is not to say that all women have the same abilities, similarly there are men who undertake such responsibilities incredibly well. As for manual labor, men would be considered more for their physical strength. This may snatch up an opportunity deserving of women with the physical strength. At the same time, it could be an opportunity for them to move up the ladder in managerial positions.

To tear down the negative stereotypes in the society, people must be more open to learn about different cultures (Schneider, 2005). In dating a person from a different race or tribe, it provides an opportunity to break down the negative notions presenting a counter narrative.

Conclusion

Clearly, stereotypes are projections onto the world. Society and culture, as depicted by the essay, place a considerable amount of pressure on people to conform to social roles. They prevent us from seeing a person as they really are. Stereotypes are concomitant evaluation of reality and for that reason; they should not be the exclusive determinant to dismiss a person. Perceptions of individuals or groups of individuals as detailed by this analysis can be at times misconceived. Even so, stereotypes are at times advantageous when a situation requires quick response or in forming identity for a person or people. Conclusively from this evaluation, the demerits of stereotypes outweigh the merits.

List of References

Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. 1971. The social construction of reality. London: Allen Lane Penguin Press.

Kashima, Y. 2013. Stereotype dynamics. New York [u.a.]: Psychology Press, pp.6-7.

Lippmann, W. 2011. Public opinion. 1st ed. New York: Macmillan.

Nance, D. 2016. Are Stereotypes Unfairly Stereotyped?. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-the-lines/201112/are-stereotypes-unfairly-stereotyped [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Pranit, K. (2010). Organisational behaviour. [Place of publication not identified]: Gennext Publication, pp.22-30.

Schneider, D. (2005). The psychology of stereotyping. New York: Guilford Press, p.20.

Thornham, S. and Marris, P. 2011. Media studies. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.5-8.

Tobin, D. (2007). Gender stereotypes and gender identity as interacting influences on children's self-concepts. lorida Atlantic University, 2007, p.50.

WiseStep. 2018. Top 17 Pros and Cons of Gender Stereotypes - WiseStep. [online] Available at: https://content.wisestep.com/top-pros-cons-gender-stereotypes/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

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