National Network for Child Care's Connections Newsletter

Marilyn Lopes
Extension Specialist, Family Life Education
Cape Cod Extension
University of Massachusetts

Copyright Access Information

Differences in our society are many, including age, religion, physical and mental abilities, gender, sexual orientation, income, family or social status, and physical appearance. Anyplace where differences are found leaves room for stereotypes.

Stereotypes are generalizations about people usually based on inaccurate information or assumptions rather than facts. Stereotypes do not take into account the great diversity of people within a group of people. Nor do stereotypes consider the present circumstances of the individual. Even worse, stereotypes can lead to prejudicial or discriminatory behavior.

Stereotypes are learned. Young children learn to stereotype others by the comments or behavior of their parents or other adults in their lives. Some stereotypes show up in television, music, books, school textbooks, and advertising. People may learn stereotypes by believing someone else's opinion when they haven't had firsthand experience.

What can we do to reduce or eliminate stereotypes in our lives?

1. Focus on every person as an individual.

2. Become more aware of stereotypes and how they interfere with our ability to perceive and interact with people.

3. Remember that there are more differences within a group than between groups.

4. Recognize that we're all part of many groups, none of which can totally explain or define who we are.

5. Learn to look at things from the other person's point of view.

6. Adapt a more humble, tentative attitude about the accuracy of our judgments.

7. Be willing to learn more about the culture and background of people different from ourselves.

8. Take opportunities to neutralize stereotypes when we hear them.

National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care – NNCC. (1994). Realities of stereotypes. In M. Lopes (Ed.) CareGiver News (August, p. 1). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.

Any additions or changes to these materials must be preapproved by the author.

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