Formation of Stereotypes and Prejudices

When combined, the biases of prejudice and stereotyping help to perpetuate and deepen existing forms of social exclusion. A person's prejudices can be positive or negative, and their biases can be held consciously or unconsciously. As opposed to generalizations, stereotypes are preconceived notions about a group's members, including but not limited to their appearance, behavior, or aptitude.

What is the Meaning Formation of Stereotypes and Prejudices?

Insights regarding a particular group relying on a personal example are unproven prejudices. Like cliches, caricatures simplify and exaggerate. Even though they make sweeping, inaccurate assumptions concerning entire populations, many portrayals persist. Stereotypes are mental images of how one group of people is thought to be like and different from another group. It is essential to note that one can recognize cultural stereotypes and hold mental representations of one of these beliefs without agreeing with them, experiencing bias, or understanding how they might influence one's decisions and actions. Many believe that prejudice and stereotyping are adaptive processes that help people deal with the complexity of the real world.


Stereotypes are examined from multiple disciplines: psychologists may examine an individual's experience with group dynamics, communication patterns, and intergroup conflict. Sociologists may study class relationships. Conflicts, poor parenting, and a lack of social and emotional development may lead to stereotypes. Stereotypes persist for two reasons

  • First, schematic processing reinforces our preconceived notions of a group when a member acts in a way that matches them.

  • Second, because prejudice is effective, logical arguments against stereotypes are useless. Emotional responses are harder to overcome.

Illusory correlation

One cognitive mechanism theorized to underlie the development of stereotypes is an illusory correlation, the drawing of false conclusions about the connection between two events. The frequency with which two improbable events occur simultaneously is often overstated, and this is because anomalies tend to stand out more when observed in clusters. Stronger ties appear to form between events as encoding becomes more specific and efficient.

Upbringing and Socialization

Even when people describe a different racial or national group for which they have no personal experience, the descriptions are extremely consistent. The formation of stereotypical attitudes is not solely the result of socialization, and there is no correlation between exposure to similar stimuli and the formation of shared stereotypes. This proposes that prejudice is contagious because group members are encouraged to share the same attitudes, manifesting in generalizations about other groups. Another explanation is that biases are taught and learned over time. Even though prejudices can be learned at any age, some psychologists say that most people get their prejudices from their parents, teachers, and the media when they are young. If stereotypes are based on social values, then they will change as society does.

Gender Identity

Unfortunately, transgender and non-binary people often face prejudice because they do not always fit the stereotypical gender role. Refusing to use a person's preferred pronouns or asserting that a person is not their identified gender are examples of discrimination that could fall under this category. Similarly, it is discriminatory to call someone by a name other than the one they prefer, especially if that person has explicitly stated multiple times what they prefer to be called.


Nationalism, the strong feeling of belonging to a group, is often the impetus behind a policy of national independence or separatism. It suggests that citizens of a given country have a "shared identity" that emphasizes internal unity while emphasizing external barriers. When this happens, people tend to overestimate how much they are alike and think of themselves as "culturally united," even though there are still inequalities in the country based on things like race and socioeconomic status.


Numerous studies prove the inevitability of stereotyping. Both highly and less prejudiced people can be triggered into using stereotypes by simply being in the same room as a member of a stereotypical group (or a symbolic representation of that group). Subtle references to black stereotypes are made. Participants read a paragraph describing their actions without knowing the person's race and rated them on several trait scales. The story's antagonist became more hostile as more racially charged language was used. Regardless of how prejudiced one was, this held (as measured by the Modern Racism Scale). Because of this, even unbiased individuals began to think racially and stereotypically. Through research, it has been found that different priming methods can lead to age and gender biases.

Behavioral Outcomes

Empirical evidence shows that half of the participants held negative attitudes toward the elderly despite taking a test in which words associated with age stereotypes were jumbled up. Despite no words in the test referring to slowness, those primed with the stereotype walked much more slowly than the control group, as expected. The stigma the older person has faced will also affect how they see themselves, making them feel bad about themselves.


The size of the relationship between evaluations and stereotypes may depend on the degree to which the valence of the attribute captured in the stereotype matches the valence of the group. For example, the degree to which the stereotype "African Americans are more physical than mental" is related to implicit evaluations of African Americans should depend on how positively or negatively a person evaluates the attribute "physical" compared to the attribute "mental."


Both implicit and explicit biases ought to be influenced by the underlying representations. We show this by showing that (a) the substitutes of prosodic values associated with a group (stereotypes) influence implicit evaluations (prejudices) of that group, and (b) the valence of a group is associated with shifts in implicit generalizations about that group. This occurs because (a) implicit evaluations are based on overt evaluations, and (b) the extraversion of textual attributes associated with a group (stereotypes) influences the inherent evaluations (prejudices) of that group (facts). Even though most people think that bias and stereotypes have nothing to do with each other, we were able to find evidence that they do.