The Driving Force of Stereotyping

Stereotyping generally has a pretty bad name. Nobody wants to be put into a category and pre-judged before even a word has been said. However, stereotypes are in existence for a reason. If they had no reason or function, surely they wouldn’t still be kicking around.

I find myself making subtle judgements on people from time to time. I don’t think this makes me a bad person, it’s just noticing a pattern in people for future reference. My wife tells me off whilst driving for making stereotypical assessments about the drivers of a certain make of car. I won’t mention the make I’m talking about. Around 90% of the time I spend being tailgated, it seems to be by someone driving a car of this make. All I’ve done there is used past experience to predict what the likely sequence of events is going to be in the future. Is it so wrong to look in my rear view mirror and think ‘oh, here we go’? I’m simply alerting myself to previously experienced dangers.

I should imagine that plenty of companies thrive on the use of stereotypes as part of calculating a target audience for their products. There’s no use trying to sell hip-hop music to pensioners. There are probably a few that might like hip-hop I’m sure, but generally there isn’t enough interest to warrant putting 2Pac posters up in the post office on pension day.

Whether it’s using stereotypes to protect yourself or using them to sell your product, I think there’s definitely a place for them in society. Yes, people can be nasty whilst using preconceptions made about other people. But remember, stereotypes can be useful too. How else would I know to dislike Audi drivers? Oops.

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