Stereotyping has a huge effect on forming first impressions about people. Stereotypes are prejudices toward an individual which categorize him into a group that is presumed to share many of his characteristics. Stereotyping can have positive or negative effects depending on the situation and the group that receives stereotypes. When an individual meets a new person for the first time, his tendency is to identify him based on his knowledge of people and society.
Thus, he usually ends up relying on stereotyped images that have been ingrained in his mind since he was young. Many sectors of society propagate these images, usually to the benefit of other sectors. For example, the media may unconsciously propagate images of black people as unintelligent, preserving the status quo where white people are still the more powerful group (O’Brien, 2005, p. 395). While it is very difficult to not rely on stereotyped images when people interact with each other, stereotyping is still generally detrimental to social order.
There are many negative effects of stereotyping, including conflicts based on perceived group differences. For instance, white people and black people may think that they have conflicting interests because one group sees the other as generally harmful to the welfare of the other. Black people may see white people as oppressive, while white people may see black people as a danger to their security. The positive effects of stereotyping usually benefit only some segments of society.
Thus, jokes about Chinese people being obsessed with selling things may make non-Chinese people laugh, but Chinese people themselves are most likely not happy with this stereotyped image. Aside from racial issues, stereotyping also occurs in gender issues. Women are usual victims of stereotyping because men are generally dominant in highly modern societies. Although men may benefit and derive pleasure from stereotyped images of women as weak, sex objects, women themselves strive hard to break these stereotyped images. (O’Brien, 2005, p. 395).