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What Is a Stereotype?

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Definition: Stereotypes are characteristics ascribed to groups of people involving gender, race, national origin and other factors. These characteristics tend to be oversimplifications of the groups involved, however. For example, someone who meets a few individuals from a particular country and finds them to be quiet and reserved may spread the word that all citizens from the country in question are quiet and reserved. A generalization such as this doesn’t allow for diversity within groups and may result in stigmatization and discrimination of groups if the stereotypes linked to them are largely negative. That said, even so-called positive stereotypes can be harmful due to their limiting nature.
Also Known As: generalization, oversimplification
Examples:
My father says that television shows such as “The Sopranos” fuel stereotypes about Italian Americans being involved in organized crime.

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