A Positive Theory of Stereotyping and Stereotypes: Is Stereotyping Useful?

Donovan A. McFarlane


This paper represents a “developing” perspective on stereotyping and stereotypes. The paper briefly introduces a less popular and potentially new theory or perspective on stereotyping, a process or social phenomenon often seen as a highly undesirable and negative in modern society. The author cites cultural dimension theory, socialization, social learning, cultural syncretism, and other sociological and behavioral processes and theories as having both elements and bases for stereotyping and stereotypes. The author agues that these processes by their very nature make stereotyping natural, if not a legitimate rationale approach to human relationships, interaction, and communication in the process of knowing each other as well as self more fully. This perspective does not underscore the negative aspects and consequences of stereotyping and stereotypes as we have come to know them in our modern society and everyday living. The author also proposes a Social Competitive Theory of Stereotypes to further explain the “usefulness” from a Darwinian and materially oriented Malthusian perspective - resources competition makes stereotyping a necessity. The author recommends further consideration on the views presented in this paper, and if possible, further research into the positive perspective or view of stereotyping and stereotypes as serving an important social function.

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