Why do we engage in the stereotyping of people

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The need to understand

Why do we stereotype people?
Why do we quickly label others and judge them?

I am pretty sure you noticed how often do people label others and assign them to certain predetermined groups. Do we stereotype people because we are bad? or is there another explanation?

Of course some people stereotype others because of reasons such as hatred, jealousy and other bad emotions. But in many cases we engage in stereotyping because we want an explanation for things.

The human mind can hardly rest if it doesn't understand an important thing. If for example you care about a person then you will need to understand that person's behaviour.

As soon as this person does something you will want to find a reason for his actions. If you failed to find a proper explanation then you might take the easiest path many people take which is stereotyping See also Undersandting unconscious symbols.

We hate uncertainty

The human mind hates missing information. Remember the last time someone told you half a story then left you wondering about the rest?

We humans hate uncertainty and we always want to put everything we encounter in the form of structured data. In most cases we don't accept the fact that we have missing information about something and so we usually rush to conclusions just to fill the missing gaps. See also do we judge others fairly

Even though many of the stereotypes we set are wrong they make us feel comfortable as they help us get rid of the unpleasant uncertainty.

We humans are also impatient. We would rather make a wrong conclusion about someone in order to understand his behaviour fast instead of waiting for sometime to know the full story. This might sound very irrational and the truth is that humans can be very irrational when they are controlled by their own psychological desires.

Of course this irrationally stems from the subconscious mind, which usually acts like a little child, and so the person never feels that something wrong is going on.

Stereotype to feel better

In many cases Stereotyping can have the goal of helping us feel better about ourselves. In the Solid Self confidence program i said many of the actions we do actually have the purpose of helping us feel that we are good.

Sometimes we engage in stereotyping in order to raise our own self esteem and make ourselves feel better. We can for example claim that we belong to a superior group by just saying that another person doesn't belong to that group.

In such a case the main objective of stereotyping is elevating our own self worth by putting someone else down.

The rational human

As you can see being human subjects us to different kinds of pressure that can force us to act in an irrational way. The real powerful human is the one who doesn't give in to those primitive unconscious desires and who manages to control those desires.

Don't judge people because you don't have enough information and don't stereotype others just because you can't figure out what's going on.

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