Our brains don’t like to deal with complicated problems. Instead, they like to categorize different people and objects. The less familiar something is, the more we use stereotypical generalization.
Oftentimes, however, these simplifications are wrong. Why is this so? It is because sometimes, stereotypes are totally false, and other times, they are only partially true. Although no one can be free from prejudice, it is important to learn the dangers and avoid the effects of it.
One example of a false stereotype is heart failure tests in hospitals. A person with a higher score means a higher risk of death, so she becomes a priority in getting treatments. Yet there is a problem in this process.
“Nonblack” patients have a higher chance to get treatment before black patients because they automatically receive an extra 3 points in the score. This occurs because of a false stereotype that African Americans are more immune to heart disease. In fact, According to the Office of Minority Health, in 2017, “African Americans were 20 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.”
These racial or cultural biases in medical fields can be life-threatening for those under prejudice.
Partially true stereotypes can be easily seen in our everyday lives. Have you heard the phrase “all Asians are good at math?”
This might seem like a compliment, but it can be offensive because it is a generalization of one trait to a group of people. This stereotype probably formed because of Asians’ educational fervor that pushes students to make themselves better. Therefore, it is an acquired skill, not a natural trait. Although it can be true that some Asians are good at math, there is no scientific evidence that all Asians are innately good at math.
This kind of concept can lead to questions like, “why aren’t you good at math when you’re an Asian?” It may seem very trivial, but it can generalize a group of people into one category and hide the real characteristics of individuals.
Everyone has stereotypes, and sometimes they are true. However, beware that it is not the only truth about them. Stereotypes can completely make you blind. It hides many different aspects of an individual and generalizes them into one trait. Now that you’ve learned, let’s take off our tinted glasses and look at each person differently. You may see a whole new side of that person!