A stereotype is “...a fixed, over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996).
The use of stereotypes is a major way in which we simplify our social world; since they reduce the amount of thinking we have to do when we meet a new person. By stereotyping we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have. Stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes. Most stereotypes probably tend to convey a negative impression. Positive examples would include judges (the phrase “sober as a judge” would suggest this is a stereotype with a very respectable set of characteristics), overweight people (who are often seen as “jolly”) and television newsreaders (usually seen as highly dependable, respectable and impartial). Negative stereotypes seem far more common, however.
I. Discuss the questions with a friend.
1. Based on the description above, how would you describe the stereotypes of the following groups of people?
- Baianos (for Brazilians only)
2. If you were a person from another planet and you had to describe your stereotyped vision of human beings to the people from your planet, how would you describe us?
3. We also have a stereotyped vision of ETs. What is the image/characteristics of ETs?
4. Watch the movie segment and make a description of how humans are seen by the eyes of extra-terrestrials. Then decide which characteristics are true (or partially true) and why they have that point of view about us.