The Instigator
TheTom
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
carriead20
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Stereotypes are good

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
TheTom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/13/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,663 times Debate No: 63183
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

TheTom

Pro

I argue that the use of stereotypes are a good and useful function. My opponent argues against this. You may present your argument in the first round if you wish. I am using this to gain perspective on a persuasive essay I am writing, so please don't hold back. Please be aware that this is a 3 hour response debate.
carriead20

Con

I disagree with you they are a terrible thing and shouldn't even exist.
Debate Round No. 1
TheTom

Pro

Stereotypes are a controversial issue. From the time we're young we are trained to believe that judging a book by its cover is wrong. Stereotypes are associated with bigotry, racism, discrimination, and everything that is inherently bad. People are quick to point out the fault of stereotypes, however not many people realize the reason they exist in the first place. Stereotypes exist because human brains work by categorizing and over simplifying information.

Definition of a stereotype: "A widely held but fixed and simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing"

Human brains operate by grouping information together. This is how we learn. For example, there millions of different types of vehicles in the world, all of which look different from one and other. All these vehicles are different shapes sizes, models, and colours. Yet when we encounter a vehicle that we've never seen before, we immediately know what it is, and have an idea of how it works. The same can be said about anything. There exists 23,000 different types of tree's in the world. However, thanks to our ability to stereotype, we don't have to memorize every tree in the world in order to recognize any type of tree. We can identify an object we have never encountered before simply by categorizing it into a predefined group. That is stereotyping, the act of grouping and simplifying new information. Without this process, humans couldn't function.

Of course this process of trying to generalize everything can cause racism, bigotry and discrimination, but it is how us humans think. It is our nature to categorize and sort information. Imagine life without stereotypes, we would have to treat every situation in our day-to-day lives as if it were brand new. This would be exhausting and is just not practical. The reason we tend to group and oversimplify things is because our minds favor efficiency over accuracy. We perceive so much information every day, and our memory is finite. We cannot possibly remember every detail of every day. So instead we form mental categories. This is a natural process.

I argue that the act of stereotyping information is not what leads to racism and discrimination. Rather it is the act of selective perception. As humans we tend to take new information and stuff it into our predefined conceptions of how the world works. The downside of this process is that it leads to perception bias, also known as selective perception. This is the tendency to ignore information that disagrees with our points of view, and amplify information that does agree with our points of view. Information that cannot easily be stereotyped tends to be ignored, and information that easily fits into our mental groupings tends to be remembered. This bias is what causes discrimination. An example: a racist man holds the belief that all black men are evil. The reason he believes this, is because he has ignored information about African American people that were good, however he can easily recall many instances where black people made his life worse. This is not due to stereotyping, rather it is due to selection bias or his inability to take in information that disagrees with him.

In summary I argue that stereotypes are a natural and efficient way of sorting information, rather than a bad habit. I also argue that the cause of discrimination and racism is not the act of stereotyping, it is the process of selective perception.
carriead20

Con

A "stereotype" is a cognitive shortcut " that is, it allows your brain to make a snap judgment based on immediately visible characteristics such as gender, race, or age. Your brain is hardwired to make quick calls, and that"s ok. The problem comes when we start to apply those stereotypes beyond that immediate impulse. That"s called "bias," which is basically a belief that a stereotype is true. For example, the stereotype that girls are bad at math can lead to the suggestion that some innate difference between women and men leads to this discrepancy.

In reality, however, girls and women are just as capable as boys and men when it comes to math. The problem is that we live in a culture that bombards girls and women with the notion that math is hard and that they don"t need to worry their pretty little heads about it. And the well-documented "stereotype threat" means that when you hear that you aren"t supposed to be good at something, you underperform, often unconsciously.

In the AAUW research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, my colleagues compiled and analyzed several studies showing that any time students were primed with the directions that men were better than women at a certain skill, the men outperformed the women on the subsequent test of that skill. But when test takers were told that men and women performed equally well in that same skill, the test results evened out. In some cases, the women outperformed the men.

Of course, the above example only takes into account an academic setting. Most of us stopped taking tests long ago, and most of us don"t work in the STEM fields either.

But don"t forget that almost all major industries and institutions are still run by men " and usually tall, thin, white men, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book on rapid cognition, Blink. The rest of us get unconscious points off for every one of those four criteria we don"t meet " but just about everyone takes those points off, not just the tall, thin, white men already in power. Look at my implicit bias test " I take those points off of myself.

What does this mean? As Gladwell explains in the context of interviewing a black person for a job,

In all likelihood, you won"t be aware that you"re behaving any differently than you would around a white person. But chances are you"ll lean forward a little less, turn away slightly from him or her, close your body a bit, be a bit less expressive, maintain less eye contact, stand a little farther away, smile a lot less, hesitate and stumble over your words a bit more, laugh at jokes a bit less. Does that matter? Of course it does. " [The candidate]"s going to pick up on that uncertainty and distance, and that may well make him a little less certain of himself, a little less confident, and a little less friendly. And what will you think then? You may well get a gut feeling that the applicant doesn"t really have what it takes, or maybe that he is a bit standoffish, or maybe that he doesn"t really want the job.

In other words, stereotypes and biases serve to unfairly and sometimes unintentionally keep qualified, capable people out of jobs or positions of power. Men are the bosses, while women are just bossy. Or not up to the challenge. Or busy taking care of the kids and wouldn"t want the additional responsibility anyway.
Debate Round No. 2
TheTom

Pro

My opponent points out that negative stereotypes and biases can affect peoples behavior negatively. I agree that this is possible, and it is a side effect of categorizing information.

Let me reiterate what exactly a stereotype is. I had previously defined it as ""A widely held but fixed and simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing" So for instance, our ability to see a metal box with four wheels that is moving, and to realize that the object is a car without giving it a second thought is essentially stereotyping.

What about the positive effects of stereotyping though? Without our ability to sort summarize and group information we would be lost.

The question is, do the benefits outweigh the cons? What would you rather have, the ability to generalize information, or to give that up in order to become less biased?
carriead20

Con

People don"t really like being stereotyped because truthfully, you can"t say something is true for every member of a group. This overlooks individuality and small differences.

" It perpetuates a divide. I can think of at least two categories I"ve noticed Asian women fall into: "Dragon Lady" (I did not invent that phrasing) or "submissive damsel" (I admit I invented that). You see Asian women doing crazy martial arts moves and throwing ninja stars or you see a shy girl in a sailor outfit giggling behind her hand. This is not representative of all Asian women, but some people actually believe it is.

" Stereotypes linger. According to one study, negative stereotypes have a lingering effect on those who experience them. People perform poorly in situations where they feel they are being stereotyped, and they were still more likely to be aggressive and lacking in self-control even a while after stereotyping happens. Remembering a situation where you felt prejudiced against will also negatively affect their moods.

" They affect more aspects of life than you think. This study shows that one of the reasons women don"t go into computer science fields is because of the stereotype of "geeky" men is a turn-off. Ouch. What about when you say that all women are bad at math? Does this account for why women don"t often go into math-related fields? Stereotypes cab be a self-fulfilling cycle.

But what about good stereotypes?

Is it really so bad to promote positive aspects of a group?

To be blunt, yes. Positive stereotypes are just as harmful as negative ones.

In one study, Asian-Americans were divided randomly into two groups, one of which experienced stereotyping. Turns out that the participants in that group severely disliked those who stereotyped them. They felt depersonalized and angry. The same results happen when you tell women that they"re nurturing and in touch with their emotions, or tell someone tall and dark-skinned that he must be good at basketball.

Another study has found that believing in a positive stereotype will reinforce the beliefs of negative stereotypes. For example, people who were exposed to the stereotype that blacks are superior at sports unquestioningly believed it; later on, these people had much stronger negative feelings and beliefs about other stereotypes, such as "Blacks are violent."

Back to the movies

Stereotypes pop up everywhere in the media. The strict Asian mom, the nerdy Asian kid who only studies, the awkward Indian man who can"t talk to women, the martial artist, sexy Asian order bride, foreigners who can"t speak English, model minority" the list goes on.

These stereotypes, of course, are not only limited to Asians. They"re everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And they"re bad. Seeing these stereotypes time and time again on television or in movies reinforces our belief in them. We unquestioningly think they"re true. We treat others in day-to-day life based on often incorrect stereotypes.

This is what you should take away:

Stereotypes are not a good thing. They do not promote harmony within our country. They divide the "United" States. Stereotyping in media = widespread belief of stereotypes = angry stereotyped people & hardcore believers who will not see things in any other light.

If you find yourself stereotyping someone (and we all do it. I do it. All the time. So do you.), take a step back and ask yourself why. Why do you believe this? Is there evidence to back it up, or is all of your evidence anecdotal? And how might your stereotype be a bad thing?

By combating stereotypes in real life as well as in the media, we can facilitate better understanding between people and cultures. We can make a nicer world in general.

So stop with the stereotypes.
Debate Round No. 3
TheTom

Pro

My opponent likes to point out examples of the negative side effects of stereotyping people. In order to make an accurate judgement though, we need to weigh the negatives against the positives. Some things are just so useful that no matter what the negative, they are still employed.

Car's are dangerous. Millions of people every year are killed in car accidents. Motorized vehicles are the number one cause of pollution in industrialized countries across the world. They cause people to be lazy, and they are dangerous. Does this mean we should do away with cars? Is that a practical solution? Of course not! Car's are so useful that we cannot do without them The same thing can be said of stereotypes. They are dangerous and easy to misuse. They are the cause of bigotry and racism. However, they are also what makes us human. Our ability to categorize and easily summarize information is incredible. To say we should avoid stereotypes is just not practical. Instead, we should simply be mindful of how we choose to categorize things. More specifically, how we categorize people. (It's fine to say all toasters look the same, but if you say the same thing about a specific race of people its racist) People do not like being categorized, because it takes away there feeling of individuality. We should be mindful of how we stereotype people. However this does not make the use of stereotypes inherently evil.

Now I think we can both agree that stereotypes are inevitable. Con has said "If you find yourself stereotyping someone (and we all do it. I do it. All the time. So do you.), take a step back and ask yourself why" Yes indeed we all do it all the time. So why is that?

Stereotypes are an automatic process. It is an unavoidable, efficient yet biased mechanism of our minds. It is a natural part of being human, and it should not be frowned upon. Does this mean that we should embrace racism, bigotry and discrimination? Absolutely not. Those are examples of negative stereotypes. I argue that the benefits of being able to stereotype information outweighs the negatives.

What you should take away:

Stereotypes are what make us human. They are not always correct, and they can be dangerous when applied to people, however it is natural to stereotype everything. We all do it, all the time, so instead of treating stereotyping like a bad habit, treat it like any other part of being human. It is a mental process that's essential for day to day life, and to say the world would be better of without it is absolute nonsense.
carriead20

Con

carriead20 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by thearbider 2 years ago
thearbider
Since I cannot vote in this debate as I am new to this website I will post what I think below.

Overall I would say that it was a good debate overall, however Pro never gave any outside evidence other than a rudimentary dictionary definition. He did not provide any sources and did not fully counter many of the points provided by Con. Also in round four he countered himself and in a sense derailed his own argument by stating the definition of the word "stereotype" A widely held but fixed and simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing and then stating "What about the positive effects of stereotyping though? Without our ability to sort summarize and group information we would be lost." He did not make clear what information was being grouped or summarized in this statement which made me personally question the validity of the argument as a whole when one person is arguing the ethical side (Con) while the other is arguing a washed down generalization about the categorization of information in general, not necessarily stereotypes as it pertains to living and breathing people (Pro). In my opinion, Con won.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
TheTomcarriead20Tied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by dragonfire1414 2 years ago
dragonfire1414
TheTomcarriead20Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfiet
Vote Placed by republicofdhar 2 years ago
republicofdhar
TheTomcarriead20Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did respond to the debate resolution, but seemed to decide not to rebut Pro. Pro had more arguments that survived rebuttal.