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Stereotyping

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Stereotyping

Abstract

Stereotyping is a general opinion regarding traits of particular groups as a whole. In stereotyping there is no room for individuality, only assumption based on the groups traits. A common stereotype in Utah involves the Mormon religion and the assumption that anyone from Utah is Mormon. Studies indicate there are not nearly as many Mormons in Utah as most people think. When developing stereotypes, one must be able to recognize traits and characteristics of a group. Stereotypes are not permanent and do have the potential to be changed. This process does take time since they are developed through experiences and observation. Individuals are not always aware of their participation in the use of stereotypes. Many people associate individuals with them unconsciously. Stereotypes are not always negative and can often benefit social situations when used in a positive manner.

Stereotyping A stereotype is a belief developed regarding people in general. These beliefs result in categorizing people based on assumptions and the beliefs do not allow for individuality. Stereotypes can be positive or negative depending on the situation. These beliefs result from consistent traits that are noticeable in a group and which are easily recognizable. Stereotypes can be changed, but this can take a great amount of time and convincing. Many people have opinions related to stereotypes without the realization they are contributing to said stereotype. Stereotypes take time to develop and result in social experiences and exposure over time. Utah Stereotype The most common stereotype individuals are faced with in Utah is the Mormon stereotype. Individuals from all over the United States are taught in school and through different forms of media that people from Utah, in general, are Mormon. This stereotype roots from the Mormons that settled in Utah and established Salt Lake City in 1847 who had come here on a mission from God and were here to create a model society. Many of the descendents from Brigham Young, who settled here with the Mormons, make up a majority of the population still today. Mormons are of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) and live a very conservative lifestyle. This stereotype is an example of one which can be seen as negative or positive depending on the context in which it is used. People from other states assume if an individual is from Utah, they must be Mormon. This is far from the truth as according to The Deseret News (2008) the population of Mormons in Utah was 60.4 percent and expected to be less than half by 2030. Many people look at the conservative lifestyle of the Mormon religion as a negative aspect of their lifestyle. This would be an example of how this stereotype would have a negative effect on a person’s opinion of this group. There are many people that have an opinion completely opposite of this negativity. A conservative lifestyle that the Mormon’s live for the most part is viewed as a positive influence, and a good environment to raise children in. Utah is fairly conservative state compared to most, yet this is what makes Utah such a great place to raise a family. Being from Utah, it can be frustrating at times to be classified negatively and also positively as an LDS individual. There are many people that live here simply because we were born and raised here, and enjoy the conservative lifestyle that Utah has to offer, and are not LDS. Recognizing Traits of Groups One step to creating a stereotype is to recognize similar traits individuals of a group may all possess. There are many traits that a “typical” Mormon may have. Mormon’s are very conservatively dressed. When it comes to a physical appearance of a Mormon today, girls are much easier to target than boys. The girls wear long shorts that go past their knees as to not reveal too much skin. They also wear long skirts that hang at the ankle for them same reason. The entire above paragraph is typical of what you might hear in regards to your typical member of the Mormon church. In reality, everything I just wrote is stereotypical. Mormons are not able to be spotted by dress alone. They wear the same clothes as anyone else and only at certain private institutions such as BYU, are these ideals actually enforced. Another trait that may stand out in a social situation is the trait that Mormons do not drink alcohol or caffeine. This could be a wrong assumption to make when discovering that an individual does not drink alcohol. This is a personal choice that many people choose, and these individuals do not have to be Mormon just because they choose to not consume alcohol. However, caffeine is not something that most members of the Mormon church choose not to consume. This is another stereotype that is often thrown around. One of the biggest noticeable traits of Mormons in Utah is the age that these individuals get married. The typical Mormon man and woman get married at a young age of 19-21 so they can begin their families. There are many expectations of Mormon individuals such as to not live with a partner until marriage and things pertaining to this general idea. To allow themselves to enjoy particular events in life, they get married young as they are anxious to experience life. An incorrect trait that people seem to look for in Mormon families is the family with multiple wives. This assumption roots from Brigham Young as he is one of the first members of this church and he had many wives at the same time. It is not legal to have more than one wife in Utah, so this would not be a trait to be looking for to determine if a person is Mormon or not. Changing Stereotypes Once a stereotype is developed, is it possible that this opinion can be changed? Of course this can be changed. This process can take a great deal of time, focused attention and consistency, but it can be changed. According to Changing minds.org (2010), “We change our stereotypes infrequently. When we do change the stereotypes, we do so in one of three ways” (Description, para. 1). The first way to change a stereotype is the bookkeeping model. In this method, after a repeated number of times a stereotype is proved to be incorrect, individuals naturally adapt to the correct information and make the change. This does take much repetition and has to happen over time. The second way of changing a stereotype is called the conversion model. This occurs when an old stereotype is completely done away with and an individual’s opinion begins fresh. This most often happens once a stereotype is proven wrong so many times in different ways and the individual decides to rid themselves of the opinion and start fresh with no opinion towards the group. The third would be the sub typing model. This is described as the model in which was create new categories within the original category to better classify members of the large group. An example of this pertaining to the Utah stereotype of Mormons would be the subcategory of “jackmormons.” This is a cliché name for those that have been baptized and may have been raised in a Mormon household, yet they rebel and do not follow all standards outlined for them, but they have the same beliefs. Unconscious Stereotypes There are many stereotypes that everyone falls accustom to without the realization that these opinions are forming. A common stereotype regarding homeless individuals is that they gave up on life and should have no problem maintaining the same lifestyle as everyone else who is not homeless. This stereotype is not meant to be condescending or rude, but comes natural to most people who work hard every day for everything that they have. This opinion forms often without thinking. Many people, who are average in the social class scale, naturally develop opinions regarding those in a higher class than themselves. They perceive rich or well off individuals as snotty or conceded in their own lives. I have met many people in my life that have done well for themselves and their families, yet they do not fall into the stereotype of snotty rich people. According to Franzoi (2009), “Stereotypes can non-consciously influence our thoughts and actions.” An example of this would be treating an individual on an airplane that is from the Middle East differently in a negative manner. This behavior would root from the 911 terrorist’s attacks. Stereotypes Derived from Experiences According to Grobman (1990), the generalizations that we develop regarding a group or individuals often comes from experiences that we have had ourselves, read in books, seen in movies, or have heard from family and friends. These stereotypes can be made without requiring any thought on our behalf. For example, if a child is attacked by a dog at a young age, there is a good chance that this child may be afraid of dogs until this child has enough positive interactions with this animal for them to throw out their first stereotype and start fresh. This child does not consciously think about their opinion towards dogs in general. The child simply reacts in result of a negative encounter with that one dog. I have a fairly positive outlook on stereotypes and their effect on society. When we recognize stereotypes as we begin to let their influence effect our opinion regarding an individual or situation, we can use this stereotype to our advantage. When we are faced with a situation that triggers a stereotype, this often can help us to avoid situations that could be unpleasant. A great example of this for me personally is at my job I interact with people all day, every day that do not pay their bills. I have developed over the last six years the stereotype of these individuals in general. I automatically think that I am being lied to, and being told exactly what I want to hear to simply get me off of the phone. There are situation in which this stereotype has come back to make me look like a fool when these individuals follow through with what they have promised and get their debts paid. Although, more often I am correct in assuming they have no intention of paying the debts and I have their accounts automatically set to move forward. I do think that if enough of people I deal with followed through with their promise to pay when they say, this would give me the repetition I would need to change the stereotype that the years of collections experience have created. I do keep in mind there are exceptions to the rule in some situations.
I think that stereotypes have become more common as people’s lives have become more complicated and busy. In having stereotypes in mind to help us form an opinion of an individual quickly, saves us time and energy in getting to know people. Stereotypes cause individuals to miss plenty of opportunity to know many people and experience many different things. Categorizing individuals in result to what they may look like, how they dress, or attitudes that a person may have can be positive and negative. I have worked at many different stereotypes that I have developed over the years and try my hardest to not let them effect how I treat people from the beginning. Changing these stereotypes in my mind will take time and will require motivation on my part and my ability to focus on the common goal of not judging. Not all people or situations need to be categorized and this is something that is important to remember when trying to avoid the act of stereotyping in our lives. Some of the major factors that contributed to the stereotyping of Mormons in Utah are polygamy and the use of garments in the temple. The concept that all Mormons have multiple wives stems from the fact that at one point in time, polygamy was practiced. Regardless of the fact this has not been a practice that Latter Day Saints have participated in many years, the stigma remains and continues to haunt members of the Mormon religion. Fundamentalist Mormons still practice polygamy but the two churches, contrary to common belief are not related. Garments also contribute to the stereotype of how Mormons dress and the conservative nature that is often viewed. Garments are a type of clothing that individuals wear after their inducted or accepted into the temple. There are a big part of the stereotype of Mormons dressing in a conservative manner. As to Mormons not drinking caffeine, this is something that has been blown out of proportion after President Hinckley appeared on Larry King. What was said was substances that are harmful to a person should not be consumed. Anti Mormons ran with this saying they were not allowed to drink caffeine. Society defines these social issues in many ways. For one saying that Mormons wont watch rated r movies and things of that nature. The definitions that people put on Mormonism are very black and white. As with everything, it's hard to classify things as black and white as the grey area that exists with Mormons is similar to anything else. Not everyone falls into the classification of someone who is conservative with dress, consumption, appearance, etc. I think both Mormons and non Mormons are affected by these stereotypes. As mentioned earlier in the paper, you can't leave the state and not have someone assume your Mormon and that you fall into all the categories listed above. When I moved to Oklahoma for two years, there were many pre-conceived notions about who I was and where I came from. People would act differently around me based on stereotypes they had about me being Mormon. Ironically, I am not LDS and never have been, yet I was lumped into a category with many others. Mormons themselves are affected by these stereotypes as well. Because of all the beliefs people have about them, those that are not Mormon tend to feel the need to act out. This is a result of being stereotyped against for so long that they feel it necessary to be extreme on the other side. Society is slowly changing over time and some of the stereotypes are beginning to fade. For instance the stereotype that all Mormons practice polygamy is starting to fade, especially with the exposure of Warren Jeff's and the fundamentalist church that continues to practice polygamy. Also, as Mormons from other states move to Utah, it is also changing the idea that they fit into a certain mold. People that are not from Utah tend to be a little more worldly and laid back than a Utah Mormon. Frankly, in Utah, it's easy to be Mormon. There are many wards and support groups for LDS members here in Utah. In other places, this is not the case and people tend to be less rigid as they have had to adapt to areas where Mormonism isn't prevalent. The population majority used to be in favor of Mormons in Utah but that is no longer the case. As the state levels out with Mormon vs. non Mormon population, things are starting to equal out and stereotypes are less common. As to recommending ways to improve the stereotypes here in Utah, that is happening on it's own. Awareness and education, as with everything are crucial in breaking down the ideals people have in their minds in regards to Mormons. The General Conference that is done twice a year raises awareness to who Mormons really are. Also, their participation in aid in regards to natural disasters and horrible catastrophes is helping to change the way they are viewed across the world. No single organization contributes more to humanity aid than the Mormon church. Recently, we had a wind storm in northern Utah that caused millions of dollars in damage, lost power, etc. The church supplied massive amounts of cash, labor and help in general to help people get back on their feet. This is instrumental in being recognized as an organization that is willing and able to contribute to the well being of society. Continuing the trend of informing people and educating them will be the key to eventually making the stereotype disappear entirely. Tolerance is something that has been an issue throughout all of time and will continue to be an issue. Only time can help this as well as continuing to move forward in a respectful manner. The Mormon church does a lot of good. References
Changing minds.org. (2010). Stereotypes. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/stereotypes.htm
Franzoi, S. L. (2009) PSY 110: Social psychology: 2009 custom edition (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Custom Publishing
Grobman, G. (1990). The holocaust - a guide for teachers

(2008, November 29). LDS population of utah declining. Deseret news…...

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Stereotyping

...Title: Stereotyping By: Sheila Cowan PHI 103: Informal Logic Instructor: Issac Brown Date: November 07, 2011 Stereotyping, prejudices and discrimination are ways in which society maintains class and status distinctions and disparate rights and resource distribution. Whether stereotypes are personal, socially based or institutionally legitimized, stereotyping uses flawed logic. It universally applies a belief, idea or an observation to a group of people with a specific trait or characteristic. This leads to invalid logic arguments, hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives that look something like this (Brown, 2001): • If a person has brown hair they are always less intelligent. When constructed as a universal or categorical imperative it looks like this (Brown, 2001): • People with brown hair are always less intelligent. Nevertheless stereotypes persist. Stereotyping and Discrimination Wherever people must compete for resources or position, stereotyping becomes a powerful tool. Governments and organizational leaders charged with the distribution of these positions and resources often use stereotyping and discrimination as a process of elimination. Therefore, negative stereotyping exists in almost every sphere of participation. It exists in schools, in financial institutions, in nearly every industrial and societal sector. Sometimes, negative stereotyping is less obvious than others are. As......

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