Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stereotypes And Individual Differences

By Kitty Lee on July 21, 2010

Stereotypes are types of generalization that are useful in organizing the massive amounts of information to which people are exposed. As with any generalization, the formation of stereotypes downplays the behavior of specific individuals and stresses trends across large numbers of people. After many observations of different individuals, people from all over the world are likely to see more aggressive behavior in men, more nurturing behavior in women, more assertion of leadership among men, and more passivity among women in mixed-gender groups. These observations become part of the universal stereotypes of men and women. When drawing their conclusions about men and women, observers do not focus on individual differences. They do not focus their attention on the individual aggressive woman or the passive man.

In their studies, Williams and Best found that passivity was part of the stereotype of females in 25 cultures. Other parts of the stereotype were that females were respectful, nurturing, and sociable. In addition to an explanation based on biological differences that lead to responsibilities for childcare, Williams and Best asserted that additional arguments need to be made about the reasons for the stereotype. One argument is that people Cartier Replica Watches become comfortable believing that members of each gender either have or can develop the characteristics that are necessary to carry out tasks in a smooth-functioning society. If females are to have a principal responsibility for the care of the young, it is reassuring to believe that they can be—or can become—affectionate, gentle, patient, sympathetic, and so on. If males are to serve as hunters and warriors, it is comforting to believe that they can be—or can become—adventurous, aggressive, courageous, energetic, independent, self-confident, and the like. It may be in this context, the "justification of necessity" with regard to different social roles that many of the gender-trait stereotypes originated. Once established, the beliefs concerning the psychological makeup serve as norms for the behavior of adult men and women and provide models for the socialization of girls and boys toward their assigned gender roles.

Another needed part of the explanation is consistent with some feminist approaches to the analysis of gender differences. According to these studies, once men are socialized to act in a dominant manner, they become comfortable with their power over women and develop norms that keep women in inferior positions. People who hold power learn to enjoy it and are unwilling to let go of it. When men have power, they often develop beliefs that maintain it. (e.g. "We are better at making tough decision.") Further, they develop other beliefs that make it difficult for women to gain access to power, (e.g. "They are really happier in homemaker roles. ")

Returning to the arguments about gender, the tendency for women to become passive in the company of men does not have to dictate behavior among adults in today's world. After all, it is possible for women, who find them deferring to men during arguments and discussions in the workplace, to try to break old habits. They can, for example, make a point of asking relevant questions and of becoming more active participants in the discussion. In other words, they can make a conscious decision to move beyond traditional male-female tendencies. The liberation that stems from moving beyond traditional gender roles can benefit members of both sexes. Men who have a tendency to dominate meetings, for instance,Cartier love cuff for womens, may want to make a point of listening to and respecting the contributions of others. They may find that the meetings will be much more productive. Time and energy will be spent on developing good ideas rather than on sorting out positions in the dominance hierarchy.

As women decide to move into roles that were traditionally denied them, there is a decrease in the number of sharp distinctions that once marked the behavior of men and women. School-related performance is an example. If there once was a stereotype that woman perform less well than men in mathematics and better in language and the arts, the differences today are almost nonexistent. Once females are encouraged to take advanced mathematics courses, and once males are encouraged to pursue interests in language and arts, they are able to take advantage of a schools' offering without the Breitling Replica prejudice that "boys do better in math, girls do better in areas involving verbal skills". In an ideal world, once opportunities within a society are opened up to members of both genders,Cartier earrings price, individuals can pursue various goals based on their abilities and interests. Further, they can pursue their goals without the constant concern that there will eventually be limits placed on them. This ideal world does not yet exist, but there has been research in diverse cultures that has given insights into what a society without unnecessary gender restrictions might look like. Research has focused on the pressures for movements away from traditional restrictions and the results of the changes in the behavior of males and females. Many of these changes have resulted in the disappearance of the sharp differentiation between the behavior of males and females.

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