In the essay “Don’t Let Stereotypes Warp your Judgement” by Robert C. Heilbroner, the author discusses how stereotypes cause us to prejudge the different types of people in the world before actually getting to know them. He writes about the types of stereotyping, and how we do it without recognizing it, when we begin, and what we should do to try to prevent it. He gives clear examples of many types of stereotyping. Every point that the author makes in this essay is valid. Especially the points about childhood stereotyping, how we try to make sense of the world, and what we should try to do to prevent ourselves from stereotyping so much.
Heilbroner writes, “We begin to type-cast people in our early childhood.” This statement is true. Not only do we begin to typecast at an early age, our peers greatly influence how we are to typecast another peer. Kids can be cruel and hurtful even when it comes to a simple kickball game. When it comes to choosing teams, stereotyping is used sometimes. Some children who are fit and in shape might exclude an overweight child because they are thought to be slow or not athletic. Even if a child receives good grades, he or she might be typecast as a teacher’s pet. This child may not be liked by his peers just because he does well in school and he can be called names, such as dork or geek. Things like this can scar a child mentally and even cause a low feeling of self-worth. What is more, these situations may also have negative consequences for this or that kid in the future, when he or she is an adult. In other words, it may affect child development and health through multiple pathways. It takes us a while to realize that these simple assumptions aren’t always correct.
“Sometimes stereotyping can be used to help us make sense of this complicated world,” Heilbroner also mentions in his essay. Sometimes it can be hard for us to comprehend all the complexities of the world. There are so many different types of people that we actually put them into categories to try to help us understand them. Actually, putting people into categories kind of blinds us from seeing the true person. We categorize by race, occupation, physical appearance, and a variety of other things. Something that we most often put into a category is race. Out of all the things we have to offer, the color of our skin and culture background we have seems to stick out the most. In the past, there were certain hate groups, such as the KKK that showed extreme hatred towards any other race than the white race. The KKK would do violent things to them, such as brutal beatings or even hangings. Nowadays, stuff like this is very rare although hatred towards some other races is still among us. We have come to more of an expectance that the only thing different was the color of skin. It is a known fact that race has nothing to do with our personalities.
All in all, stereotypes are known for their negative reputation. The reasons are pretty logical and reasonable. According to the results of the most recent researches, stereotypes of any kind can make intergroup hostility more extensive, as well as facilitate different prejudices around age, sex, race, and various other distinctions. As it has already been mentioned, stereotypes are usually used in order to justify any sort of discrimination and injustice, to give some good reason to violence, to enable exploitation, as well as enable various corrupt power structures. All possible interpretations and expectations that are based on stereotypes tend to actively ruin the most intimate relationships, become fatal to individual freedom, contaminate laws, and stymie individual achievements.
We know that stereotyping is wrong, so we should try to do things to prevent it. And whatever it is that we choose to do, we have to make sure it is applied in every sphere of everyday life. The author suggests that we become aware of the standardized pictures in our head and disregard them. Besides, Heilbroner suggests that we should begin with individualism rather than begin with a type. Doing so can help us know people for who they really are rather than what the world says they are. In other words, instead of looking at the face, we have to make sure to look at people’s hearts. Even though getting the mental pictures out of our heads can be hard, it is something that should be done. Another thing we can do to prevent stereotyping is to leave our comfort zone in order to explore our differences in culture and make our own judgement. If we get out into the world, we can meet so many different types of people. Every person has a story behind him or her, and every person has something unique to share. For instance, when a beautiful woman enters the room of a new office, many people there start making up their mind about her. Without a doubt, she may have immense professional experience and educational background, but people will most likely believe that a woman that is that attractive and young can’t have that level of professionalism to make her way up the career ladder. More often than not, they will write this woman off before she even gets the chance to show her talents and professional skills.
Agreeing with all the points that the author makes in the essay, we can see that stereotyping is something some of us do on a daily basis, and we need to realize it as soon as possible. It seems as though it has taken over the world in some form. In addition, it seems as though it does not help the world, and it does not make us feel better about ourselves. Do we do this purposely? Do we get any sort of satisfaction in the process? What previous experiences make us behave this way? Are we happy when we look at some people and come up with certain points of view due to some of the existing stereotypes? I would say probably not. Many of the things we hear and see while growing up paint those mental pictures in our heads, and sometimes we prejudge subconsciously, without even realizing it. That is why we should try to recognize these pictures and make no use of them. Maybe we should start with our children and tell them to get to know someone before excluding them in groups. They can expand their intelligence by trying to understand the diversity of everything. There is nothing positive to come out of stereotyping. It is important that people understand what stereotypes actually are, and why they stand behind this or that problems in our world. The reality is that even if some stereotypes do not seem to be negative, they still may have some bad or even hazardous consequences. It only causes us to be blind to the world. The world has so much to offer in its uniqueness, and we should embrace it instead of judging it.