Get the answer of: Can Stereotypes be Changed ?
The negative stereotypes produce a lot of biased perception, misunderstanding and tension at the national and international front. They also assist in the persistence of prejudice and hence negative stereotypes should be changed; but they are so rigidly fixed on one’s mind that it is very difficult to change.
Some studies have been conducted to find if stereotypes change with time. Gilbert (1951) repeated the study of Katz and Braly after 18 years on the undergraduate students of the same university where Katz and Braly made their former study.
Though the two studies were conducted on the undergraduate students of Princeton University after a long gap of 18 years, interestingly, it was noticed that the qualities and trait names most frequently checked in 1932 were also checked almost in the same percentage in 1950.
Though the same stereotypes were there, inspite of the change of subjects there was, nevertheless, a fading effect says Gilbert, because though the same traits were checked, there was a decrease in the percentage of people checking the trait.
For instance, in 1932 Italians were looked upon as artistic by 53% while in 1950 only 28% viewed them artistic. In the same way, 44% considered Italians to be impulsive in 1932 while in 1950 only 19% checked this attribute. Though the Negroes in 1932 was basically considered superstitions and lazy by 84% and 75% respectively in 1950 less than 50% of the students checked these traits.
All these go to show that though the stereotypes grow weaker with time, they, nevertheless, persist. In the present age with more and more communication facilities and modern information technologies each of group gets scope for greater contact and more informations about the other groups. Moreover, persons with increased education, knowledge and scientific outlook are more liable to change their outlooks.
Moreover, mixed classes in educational institutions like Jews and Negroes, studying in the same school with Americans and English people, SC/ST students studying with general caste students, lower SES students studying with higher SES students to a great degree help the children to reduce their tension and bias through cultural contacts.
Thus, intercultural education in schools lay a tremendous role in the fading effect and weakening of stereotypes.
Goldstein (1948) analysing various literatures, news papers, cartoons and songs found that inspite of the strong notion of ‘Racism’ in America the image of American Negro has changed in a major way during the last century. Now there has been further change in a positive direction.
Similarly, there has also been a drastic change in the stereotype about Chinese immigrants to California and Asian immigrants to various Western countries with regards to the change in the image of Chinese immigrants Klineberg (1950) held that the only acceptable explanation for the changes was that it became advantageous for the whites to eliminate the Chinese from economic competition “whereas the services had previously been sorely needed.”
Wertheim (1956) opines that in the beginning of the nineteenth century the Indonesians were described by the Dutch as fierce, war like and violent. But after the Dutch colonialists crushed resistance, Indonesians were described as calm week and mild, gentle and pliable.
Indians were known world over as peace loving persons. But after the recent nuclear explosion test India is being considered by several national of the worlds who have already made several nuclear explosion and have nuclear arms, as war minded.
When the Soviet Union and United States were war time allies, the Russians were judged and rugged, braves and patriotic. But within a few years the picture so changed that the Russians were pictured as fierce, aggressive and fanatic.
Thus, stereotypes do change with time. But they only fade and totally are not banished from human mind. Mass media of communication undoubtedly play a substantial role in the development, maintenance and change of stereotypes.
Thus, the causes of such weakening of stereotypes may be attributed to improvement in communication network leading to more contact with and more informations about other groups. Wider use of intercultural education at the elementary school level may also be one of the reasons. Helping the children to learn about others from one’s own personal experiences also helps in the fading of stereotypes.
Sometimes change in circumstances and incidents also change stereotypes to some extent. Stereotypes may also change with change in personal experiences. Stereotypes grow with the growth of attitudes.
If attitudes can be changed, stereotypes can also be changed, but of course not to the extent attitude changes as stereotypes are more rigid than attitudes and have more emotional value and less stimulus values compared to attitudes.