Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Prejudice and Racism

How does our tendency to categorize lend itself to stereotyping?

Social categorization is a critical part of our social life and is evident as early as infancy. Studies have shown that infants can distinguish people according to their gender, age, and degree of familiarity. People also reflexively distinguish members of in-groups (groups of which the subject is a member) from members of out-groups. Furthermore, people tend to minimize differences within groups and to maximize differences between them. Finally, people tend to evaluate out-groups more negatively than in-groups. In this way, social categories easily lend themselves to stereotypes in general, and to negative stereotypes in particular.


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