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Stereotypes and Impression Formation

We often use cognitive schemata to form impressions of other people and interpret their messages. Person prototypes are ideal representations of a certain kind of person. They are used to identify and classify people. Say for instance back when you were in high school, there were students who were classified as nerds, the most popular group, and losers in high school.

1) How might your communication behavior change if you were to talk to members of each of these groups. (Nerd Group--Popular Group?Jocks/Athetes Group)
A. (Nerds/Smart Kids) In order to communicate with this group what would their conversation most likely consist of?
B. (Popular /Cool Kids). In order to communicate with this group what would their conversation most likely consist of?
C.(Jocks/Athletes) In order to communicate with this group what would their conversation most likely consist of?

2) Why do you think we classify people into these kinds of categories?

3) Is there any truth in any of these stereotypes?

4) Is this kind of activity relatively harmless, or is it harmful at some level?

5) What kind of stereotypes can be damaging?

6) How can people be encouraged to look beyond stereotypes?

Solution Preview

1. A. In communicating with smart kids, the conversation would most likely consist of academic and or scientific subject matter.

B. In communicating with popular kids, their conversation would most likely consist of parties and group outings that were attended with other popular kids.

C. Athletes conversations would most likely consist of who was the strongest in the weight room, and how many sports they were trying to earn a letter in etc.

2. I think that it is natural for human beings to classify individuals so that they can have a easy means by which to group individuals in a manner that will make it less difficult to easily utilize a means by which to ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines stereotypes and impression formations. The ideal representation of a certain kind of person is given.

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