Stereotyping is an Obstacle to Acceptance
Stereotyping, also described as labeling, classifying, typecasting, pigeonholing, categorizing, putting in a mould, and making assumptions, is our beliefs about people or groups of people. For example, if we say something like, ‘well let’s face it, what can you expect… They’re all the same’ we are stereotyping. Referring to someone as a ‘dumb blond’, or ‘fiery redhead’ are other forms. Stereotyping allows no room for individuality, and is generally negative. It stems from our deeply embedded and often conditioned conviction about others, and maybe due to fear or a lack of understanding about people different than ourselves. Minority groups are often the butt of stereotyping, for instance: gays, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill, the disabled, the hard of hearing, the visually impaired, unmarried mothers, ethnic minorities, and smokers. It can also be aimed at people employed in specific occupations – social workers, police, priest, or those with a different accent – the list is endless.
Stop reading for a moment and close your eyes. Try to capture any images, feelings or reactions you experience when reading about the groups mentioned above. Be honest with yourself. Were you guilty of stereotyping? Make a note of any groups you’re particularly struggled with to remind yourself that this is an area you need to be aware of.
Other Obstacles to Acceptance
- Lack of understanding of human behavior
- Blind spots within one’s self, for example, unresolved conflicts
- Attributing your own feelings to the other person
- Biases and prejudices, values and beliefs
- Confusion between acceptance and approval
- Loss of respect for others