Stereotyping, according to "Social Psychology" by Aronson, Wilson and Akert," is a generalization about a group of people in which identical characteristics are assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation among members. For example, all Asians are smart.

Stereotyping is different from prejudice in that prejudice involves a hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group based solely on their membership in that group.

The reason why we stereotype is to process all the incoming information we receive every second of every day. There's incredibly too much going on around us for us to process it all, so we form schemas of what we perceive, thus forming stereotypes.

There are gender stereotypes such as women are more nurturant and less assertive and men are domineering and commanding. If a man succeeds it is because of his ability. If he fails it is because of bad luck or low effort. If a woman succeeds, she "tried hard." If she fails, it is because she was not able to handle the task at hand.

Whether or not we believe these stereotypes, they can affect us negatively. For example, a study done of 46 Asian-American female undergraduates at Harvard University was given what they thought was a difficult, 12-question math test. They were split up into two groups. The first group, before they took the test, had to answer questions about their heritage such as "How many generations of your family have been living here?" which reinforced the stereotype that Asians are good at math. The other group had to answer questions about their gender such as "Do you live in a co-ed or single sex dorm?" which reinforced the stereotype that woman aren't good at math. At the end of the test, the group that was asked about their heritage scored an average 56% while the group that was asked about their gender scored an average of 43%.

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