Originally derives from a term to describe a printing process in which fixed
casts of material are reproduced.
Lippmann used the word to describe the tendency of people to think of
someone or something in similar terms – that is, as having similar attributes
– based on a common feature shared by each. He said that we all have
“pictures in our heads” (p.3) of the world outside and that their
representations are more likely templates into which we try to simplify the
sometimes-confusing information we receive from the world.
“We pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to
perceive that which we have picked up in the form stereotyped for us by our
Basically meaning stereotypes tell us what social information is important to
perceive and to disregard in our environment.
This confirms preexisting stereotypes by paying attention to stereotype
consistent information and disregarding information that is inconsistent with
The content of stereotypes is largely determined by the culture in which one
After Lippmann, researchers generally began to regard stereotyping as a
very negative, lazy way of perceiving social groups. Stereotyping was
seen as an outward indicator of irrational, no analytic cognition. An
example of rigid thinking.
Allport: a stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category.
The Social Cognitive Definition
In the early 1970s, with the birth of social cognition, researchers came to
regard stereotyping as a rather automatic process of categorization that
many cognitive and social psychologists believe is inherent in the very
nature of the way humans thinking about the world
A stereotype is any generalization about a group whether an
observer (either a member of the stereotyped group or another
observer) believes it is justified or not.
Hamilton and Trolier’s definition of a stereotype as “a cognitive structure
that contains the perceiver’s knowledge, believes, and expectations
about a human group” – (TOO BROAD: knowledge, believes, and