Positive Aspects to Stereotypes

Stereotypes are widespread notions about common traits or actions among a specific group of people or things. For example, there is a stereotype that cats are not loving pets. As with this example, most stereotypes do not work well as blanket statements. That is because individuals within the group being stereotyped may be different, no matter how accurate the stereotype. Typically, stereotypes rank right up there with racial profiling in political correctness, but there are some positive aspects to stereotypes.

Positive stereotypes

One benefit of stereotypes to those being stereotyped is that the stereotype itself may be positive. Of course, this can backfire if you benefit from a stereotype of a group in which you fit and it becomes clear that the stereotype does not apply to you. Nonetheless, certain stereotypes can help a person land a job, build a good reputation or even find love.

One example of a positive stereotype is that Asians are good at math. In some cases, this is certainly true. Furthermore, in some areas of Asia, education promotes math skills. This stereotype can potentially lead to an edge at a job where an employer is consciously or unconsciously aware of it. It does not matter if the stereotype is correct in this context.

Another example of a positive stereotype is that Jewish people are good with money. Sure, this is made fun of or turned into a negative stereotype in many ways. Nonetheless, it has its positive aspects as well. It does not hurt to be thought of as careful with money. It might help with loans, make people more likely to trust you with money, etc.

The subtle positive aspects of using a stereotype to your advantage

When it comes to stereotypes, negative ones can be hurtful and demeaning to large groups of people. However, they can also allow a little leeway in certain scenarios. The morality and exploitative nature of this positive aspect of negative stereotyping is up for debate. Nonetheless, there is no question that there can be an immediate positive experience from using a negative stereotype to your advantage.

For example. there is a prevailing notion that women make terrible drivers. Years of both women and men sharing the road have shown that overall, the two are pretty equal. However, because of this negative stereotype, a perfectly good female driver can get out of taking a long drive if she does not want to do it. Say someone asks her to take a drive on a long freeway through several states. She can say, 'I'm so sorry. I just feel uncomfortable with that many cars driving around me.' Sure, it is a cop-out, but she got out of it with an excuse for which far too many people would fall.

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