Is Stereotyping Inevitable?

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Prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping are important topics at the cause of debating within social psychology. A stereotype is a generalization about a group of people, in which certain traits cling to all members, regardless of actual individual variation (Akert, Aronson, & Wilson, 2010). As humans, people assign objects and individuals into categories to organize the environment. Individuals do this for not only organization, but also survival. Is stereotyping inevitable? That is the question; according to Devine (2007), it is, but Lepore and Brown (2007) have to disagree. Devine believes that “stereotyping is automatic, which makes it inevitable.” On the other hand, Lepore and Brown are not convinced that stereotyping is automatic, and have claimed, after observation, that it depends on the individual. According to Devine (1989), automatic processing involves the unconscious retrieval of obtained associations that develop through memory repetition; this process links with stimulus cues in the environment. The intense nature of automaticity is that an individual cannot escape or try to ignore the process (Devine, 1989). People build and enforce stereotypes through this automatic process and have no conscious control of memory retrievals. Human bodies take a lot of effort to function, but automatic processing requires little effort. People, therefore, mostly rely on automatic thinking, rather than controlled. This is why some researchers argue that automatic processing is why stereotyping is inevitable; because automaticity is easier, it does not mean controlled thinking cannot disband stereotypes (Devine, 1989). Controlled thinking is intentional and requires active participation of an individual. This proce... ... middle of paper ... ...ocial Psychology, 56(1), 5-18. Devine, P., Lepore, L., & Brown, R. (2007) Is stereotyping inevitable? Taking Sides: Clashing Views In Social Psychology (2nd ed.) Nier, Jason A., New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill. 282-313. [chapter] Fiske, S. (1989). Examining the role of intent: Toward understanding its role in stereotyping and prejudice. Unintended Thought 253-283. New York, NY US: Guilford Press. Pettigrew, T. (1987): “Useful” modes of thought contribute to prejudice. New York Times. Stewart, T., Latu, I, Kawakami, K., & Myers, A. (2010). Consider the situation: Reducing automatic stereotyping through situation attribution training. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 46, 221-225. Wheeler, M., & Fiske, S.(2005). Controlling racial prejudice: Social-Cognitive goals affect amygdala and stereotype activation. Psychological Science, 16, 56-63.
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