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Truth in stereotypes

Roukezian
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7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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7/20/2016 10:07:08 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
I would say that most stereotypes make sense and are stereotypes for a reason.

But in relation to black people (for example, given the discussion about BLM and the like in this forum recently) I would say the point is to acknowledge the harm that stereotypes can cause... even if they are legitimate. For example, black communities are rife with crime in urban ghettos. That's a fact. We can talk about the causes and history all we want, but regardless of the why factor, those places are high crime areas. As such, it would be logical to discriminate or hold racist ideas about black people (on balance) based on certain statistical realities. HOWEVER, when people point out that stereotypes can be annoying or problematic (such as when they infringe on rights) then it's worth discussing as a negative thing. So for example, even if lots of black people are criminals or most criminals are black (or whatever variation you want to say), the fact that blacks are often specifically targeted by cops based on their race is still illegal and arguably unwarranted. Thus I have no problems with stereotypes; I just think we shouldn't deny the reality of the harm that certain stereotypes can cause, legally or socially.
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Nivek
Posts: 242
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7/21/2016 12:25:15 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/20/2016 10:08:05 PM, Danielle wrote:
Asian people can't drive for sh!t. That's a stereotype I seriously cling to :)

Nonsense. I can reverse park all day unlike *some* people
Axon85
Posts: 137
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7/21/2016 1:56:09 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Firstly, the fact that some ideas "self-emerge" in a group does necessarily substantiate the truth of those ideas. Also, I do not buy the premise that an idea will naturally die off if it is false. I suppose if an idea were linked to a specific behavior that consistently resulted in severely aversive consequences, then maybe it would die off. However, false ideas are seldom accompanied by such strict contingencies; most are probably neutral as it pertains to immediate consequences.

Secondly, I would argue that the media does significantly contribute to false stereotypes and may even manufacture them ex-nhilo. As a general rule, the media tends to report on a tiny fraction of all events happening in society; events that tend to be the most extreme and least common. Thus, we are dealing with outliers and unrepresentative samples. To complicate matters further, the accuracy of these reports are often dubious given the sway of political bias and other factors.

Next, looking at this from the standpoint of psychology, we know that negative, shocking events are generally more memorable than neutral or positive ones. Furthermore, we know that people tend to overestimate the frequency of events that most easily arise in memory (this is called the availability heuristic). I think this gives us all of the necessary ingredients for the formation of false stereotypes.

Having said all of that, I do not entirely disagree with you. I don't think generalizations are inherently wrong; some may be useful and some are statistically accurate. However, I would proceed with extreme skepticism towards most stereotypes festering in society given the ease with which fallacious conjecture can infiltrate society and the human mind.
Emmarie
Posts: 1,907
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7/21/2016 11:51:25 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/21/2016 1:56:09 AM, Axon85 wrote:
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Firstly, the fact that some ideas "self-emerge" in a group does necessarily substantiate the truth of those ideas. Also, I do not buy the premise that an idea will naturally die off if it is false. I suppose if an idea were linked to a specific behavior that consistently resulted in severely aversive consequences, then maybe it would die off. However, false ideas are seldom accompanied by such strict contingencies; most are probably neutral as it pertains to immediate consequences.

Secondly, I would argue that the media does significantly contribute to false stereotypes and may even manufacture them ex-nhilo. As a general rule, the media tends to report on a tiny fraction of all events happening in society; events that tend to be the most extreme and least common. Thus, we are dealing with outliers and unrepresentative samples. To complicate matters further, the accuracy of these reports are often dubious given the sway of political bias and other factors.

Next, looking at this from the standpoint of psychology, we know that negative, shocking events are generally more memorable than neutral or positive ones. Furthermore, we know that people tend to overestimate the frequency of events that most easily arise in memory (this is called the availability heuristic). I think this gives us all of the necessary ingredients for the formation of false stereotypes.

Having said all of that, I do not entirely disagree with you. I don't think generalizations are inherently wrong; some may be useful and some are statistically accurate. However, I would proceed with extreme skepticism towards most stereotypes festering in society given the ease with which fallacious conjecture can infiltrate society and the human mind.
+1
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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7/21/2016 5:23:29 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/21/2016 12:25:15 AM, Nivek wrote:
Nonsense. I can reverse park all day unlike *some* people

Of course your best driving is demonstrated when you're going under 1 mph :P
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DavidMancke
Posts: 74
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7/21/2016 5:39:14 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/21/2016 1:56:09 AM, Axon85 wrote:
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Firstly, the fact that some ideas "self-emerge" in a group does necessarily substantiate the truth of those ideas. Also, I do not buy the premise that an idea will naturally die off if it is false. I suppose if an idea were linked to a specific behavior that consistently resulted in severely aversive consequences, then maybe it would die off. However, false ideas are seldom accompanied by such strict contingencies; most are probably neutral as it pertains to immediate consequences.

Secondly, I would argue that the media does significantly contribute to false stereotypes and may even manufacture them ex-nhilo. As a general rule, the media tends to report on a tiny fraction of all events happening in society; events that tend to be the most extreme and least common. Thus, we are dealing with outliers and unrepresentative samples. To complicate matters further, the accuracy of these reports are often dubious given the sway of political bias and other factors.

Next, looking at this from the standpoint of psychology, we know that negative, shocking events are generally more memorable than neutral or positive ones. Furthermore, we know that people tend to overestimate the frequency of events that most easily arise in memory (this is called the availability heuristic). I think this gives us all of the necessary ingredients for the formation of false stereotypes.

Having said all of that, I do not entirely disagree with you. I don't think generalizations are inherently wrong; some may be useful and some are statistically accurate. However, I would proceed with extreme skepticism towards most stereotypes festering in society given the ease with which fallacious conjecture can infiltrate society and the human mind.

I second the motion! Here here!
HeavenlyPanda
Posts: 819
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7/21/2016 10:54:54 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/20/2016 10:08:05 PM, Danielle wrote:
Asian people can't drive for sh!t. That's a stereotype I seriously cling to :)

Yet they're so much smarter than you. Guess it makes up. ;)
HeavenlyPanda. The most heavenly of all heavenly creatures.
intellectuallyprimitive
Posts: 1,000
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7/21/2016 11:18:11 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/21/2016 5:23:29 PM, Danielle wrote:
At 7/21/2016 12:25:15 AM, Nivek wrote:
Nonsense. I can reverse park all day unlike *some* people

Of course your best driving is demonstrated when you're going under 1 mph :P

Driving competence is not necessarily judged by the "skills" of the driver but rather the decision making done by the driver.
intellectuallyprimitive
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7/21/2016 11:19:41 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/21/2016 10:54:54 PM, HeavenlyPanda wrote:
At 7/20/2016 10:08:05 PM, Danielle wrote:
Asian people can't drive for sh!t. That's a stereotype I seriously cling to :)

Yet they're so much smarter than you. Guess it makes up. ;)

The Asians, specifically eastern Asians, I have encountered have usually been studious, sharp, and level headed.
Foodiesoul
Posts: 579
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7/23/2016 4:39:10 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Actually, I disagree with you. Stereotypes are really not that true and accurate because they end up misrepresenting social groups and giving many social groups good traits and bad traits that do not apply to all members of that social group.

Stereotypes are simply lies and overexaggerations based on false perceptions. For example, if someone sees a woman groping a man and the man enjoys it, that someone might think that all men are perverts who like being groped, and so that is a stereotype because not all men are perverts and not all men like being groped.

The point is, stereotypes are NEVER accurate of an entire group of people! Stereotypes might apply to some people but stereotypes DO NOT apply to all people!
Axon85
Posts: 137
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7/23/2016 7:38:08 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/23/2016 4:39:10 AM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Actually, I disagree with you. Stereotypes are really not that true and accurate because they end up misrepresenting social groups and giving many social groups good traits and bad traits that do not apply to all members of that social group.

Stereotypes are simply lies and overexaggerations based on false perceptions. For example, if someone sees a woman groping a man and the man enjoys it, that someone might think that all men are perverts who like being groped, and so that is a stereotype because not all men are perverts and not all men like being groped.

The point is, stereotypes are NEVER accurate of an entire group of people! Stereotypes might apply to some people but stereotypes DO NOT apply to all people!

I personally don't like the word 'stereotype' as it has a number of connotations that I'd prefer to avoid. However, if we talk about generalizations then yes, they can be accurate descriptions of a group (in a statistical sense). I think you are erroneously conflating descriptions of groups with descriptions of individuals. A description can be accurately applied to a group even though it may not always apply to every individual in that group.

So the problem lies not in generalizations, rather the problem lies in figuring out whether a given generalization is accurate or not.
Foodiesoul
Posts: 579
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7/23/2016 6:36:55 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/23/2016 7:38:08 AM, Axon85 wrote:
At 7/23/2016 4:39:10 AM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Actually, I disagree with you. Stereotypes are really not that true and accurate because they end up misrepresenting social groups and giving many social groups good traits and bad traits that do not apply to all members of that social group.

Stereotypes are simply lies and overexaggerations based on false perceptions. For example, if someone sees a woman groping a man and the man enjoys it, that someone might think that all men are perverts who like being groped, and so that is a stereotype because not all men are perverts and not all men like being groped.

The point is, stereotypes are NEVER accurate of an entire group of people! Stereotypes might apply to some people but stereotypes DO NOT apply to all people!

I personally don't like the word 'stereotype' as it has a number of connotations that I'd prefer to avoid. However, if we talk about generalizations then yes, they can be accurate descriptions of a group (in a statistical sense). I think you are erroneously conflating descriptions of groups with descriptions of individuals. A description can be accurately applied to a group even though it may not always apply to every individual in that group.

So the problem lies not in generalizations, rather the problem lies in figuring out whether a given generalization is accurate or not.

Generalizations are never accurate. They can be accurate of a few people but definitely not of everyone in a group. That's why we should stop using both stereotypes and generalizations, as they are harmful and prejudiced.
Axon85
Posts: 137
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7/23/2016 7:15:58 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/23/2016 6:36:55 PM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/23/2016 7:38:08 AM, Axon85 wrote:
At 7/23/2016 4:39:10 AM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/20/2016 9:52:42 PM, Roukezian wrote:
There seems to be far greater truth in stereotypes than we concede as they are not manufactured by one person but self-emerging and group-derived by many people at once, even populations living distances away from each other with minimal cultural interaction. Such stereotypes are promoted by media and other means, but moist were already existent and popular before media began to exist. The way a stereotype works is that it conveys a truth but exaggerates it to the whole race or group of people, when it only applies to a majority or a significant number of people from that race, and so gains its validation as such, but it remains obvious that a stereotype would die if it didn't contain any truth or was very far-fetched.

Actually, I disagree with you. Stereotypes are really not that true and accurate because they end up misrepresenting social groups and giving many social groups good traits and bad traits that do not apply to all members of that social group.

Stereotypes are simply lies and overexaggerations based on false perceptions. For example, if someone sees a woman groping a man and the man enjoys it, that someone might think that all men are perverts who like being groped, and so that is a stereotype because not all men are perverts and not all men like being groped.

The point is, stereotypes are NEVER accurate of an entire group of people! Stereotypes might apply to some people but stereotypes DO NOT apply to all people!

I personally don't like the word 'stereotype' as it has a number of connotations that I'd prefer to avoid. However, if we talk about generalizations then yes, they can be accurate descriptions of a group (in a statistical sense). I think you are erroneously conflating descriptions of groups with descriptions of individuals. A description can be accurately applied to a group even though it may not always apply to every individual in that group.

So the problem lies not in generalizations, rather the problem lies in figuring out whether a given generalization is accurate or not.

Generalizations are never accurate. They can be accurate of a few people but definitely not of everyone in a group.

Again, I think you are missing a basic statistical fact. Generalizations (when done correctly) can be accurate descriptions of a group even though they may not apply to every individual within that group. For example, suppose a study concludes that non-smokers live longer than smokers. This does not mean that every single non-smoker will live longer than every single smoker, rather, it means that the average life-expencany will be higher among non-smokers. Thus, pointing to specific examples in which a smoker outlives a non-smoker will not invalidate the findings because they apply to groups of people, but not necessarily to every individual.

That's why we should stop using both stereotypes and generalizations, as they are harmful and prejudiced.

I have some bad news for you. All experimental science, especially social science, is based on making generalizations from relatively small groups to larger populations. So yes, they can be useful, and no, we shouldn't stop using them. However, what we can do is educate ourselves regarding the difference between proper generalizations (such as those made by scientists) vs. sloppy generalizations (such those made by most people and the media).
triangle.128k
Posts: 3,641
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7/23/2016 7:47:29 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/20/2016 10:08:05 PM, Danielle wrote:
Asian people can't drive for sh!t. That's a stereotype I seriously cling to :)

Go shoot up a school >:0
triangle.128k
Posts: 3,641
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7/23/2016 7:48:43 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
On a serious note, I do agree stereotypes are true statistically speaking sometimes. None the less, I do not feel as if stereotypes should be taken seriously on an individual level.
Foodiesoul
Posts: 579
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7/26/2016 4:36:44 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/23/2016 7:48:43 PM, triangle.128k wrote:
On a serious note, I do agree stereotypes are true statistically speaking sometimes. None the less, I do not feel as if stereotypes should be taken seriously on an individual level.

Lol! Stereotypes are NEVER true, whether statistical or non-statistical.
Axon85
Posts: 137
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7/26/2016 5:28:23 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/26/2016 4:36:44 AM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/23/2016 7:48:43 PM, triangle.128k wrote:
On a serious note, I do agree stereotypes are true statistically speaking sometimes. None the less, I do not feel as if stereotypes should be taken seriously on an individual level.

Lol! Stereotypes are NEVER true, whether statistical or non-statistical.

As I said above, generalizing from small samples to larger populations is at the heart of all experimental science. Not only are generalizations accurate descriptions of groups (when done correctly), they can be very useful and routinely inform public policy.
triangle.128k
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7/26/2016 7:01:00 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/26/2016 4:36:44 AM, Foodiesoul wrote:
At 7/23/2016 7:48:43 PM, triangle.128k wrote:
On a serious note, I do agree stereotypes are true statistically speaking sometimes. None the less, I do not feel as if stereotypes should be taken seriously on an individual level.

Lol! Stereotypes are NEVER true, whether statistical or non-statistical.

They can be. There's a stereotype with the British liking tea, but the stereotype can be proven if statistics show that a lot of the British drink tea daily.
lamerde
Posts: 1,416
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7/28/2016 5:56:27 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/26/2016 5:28:23 AM, Axon85 wrote:
As I said above, generalizing from small samples to larger populations is at the heart of all experimental science. Not only are generalizations accurate descriptions of groups (when done correctly), they can be very useful and routinely inform public policy.

First, even if generalization is at the heart of experimental science, that doesn't mean it's done perfectly. There are always going to be problems with the sample.

Second, statistically, using a population or sample statistic to make assumptions about an individual is nonsense, which someone before you was referring to.

Third, much of statistics is based on a proxy. We can be lazy and use group statistics to make claims about groups, but I'd be hard pressed to think of an example where the group is not a proxy for something else. So how meaningful is it, really, when some stereotypes actually cause harm to particular groups and are not true of all individuals within that group? It's lazy thinking and, more importantly, oppressive in a lot of ways.
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lamerde
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7/28/2016 5:58:30 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/23/2016 7:15:58 PM, Axon85 wrote:

Again, I think you are missing a basic statistical fact. Generalizations (when done correctly) can be accurate descriptions of a group even though they may not apply to every individual within that group. For example, suppose a study concludes that non-smokers live longer than smokers. This does not mean that every single non-smoker will live longer than every single smoker, rather, it means that the average life-expencany will be higher among non-smokers. Thus, pointing to specific examples in which a smoker outlives a non-smoker will not invalidate the findings because they apply to groups of people, but not necessarily to every individual.

Your smoking example works because smoking is the specific action tied to the outcome. Race and gender are proxies at best.
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lamerde
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7/28/2016 6:03:06 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
It's funny because the same people who say or believe things like "there is truth in stereotypes" will fervently deny any kind of prejudice or bias exists that hinders particular groups. K.
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dylancatlow
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7/28/2016 6:24:52 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/28/2016 6:03:06 PM, lamerde wrote:
It's funny because the same people who say or believe things like "there is truth in stereotypes" will fervently deny any kind of prejudice or bias exists that hinders particular groups. K.

The percentage of people who think stereotypes are accurate is relatively small, even smaller if we restrict it to the people who would think of acting on them, and their effect is to some degree offset by those determined to prove the stereotypes wrong by taking actions which contradict them e.g., someone hiring a woman just because the position she's applying for is notorious for being male-dominated. Not to say that stereotypes never have a negative effect on the groups concerned, but I'm tired of stereotype being the go-to explanation for every gap in performance. In most cases the gap in performance is responsible for the stereotype and the stereotype only somewhat magnifies the gap. Stereotypes are not randomly assigned.
Axon85
Posts: 137
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7/29/2016 2:05:24 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/28/2016 5:56:27 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 7/26/2016 5:28:23 AM, Axon85 wrote:
As I said above, generalizing from small samples to larger populations is at the heart of all experimental science. Not only are generalizations accurate descriptions of groups (when done correctly), they can be very useful and routinely inform public policy.

First, even if generalization is at the heart of experimental science, that doesn't mean it's done perfectly. There are always going to be problems with the sample.

If your criteria is perfection, then you might as well ignore all scientific findings. Nothing in science is ever perfect.

Second, statistically, using a population or sample statistic to make assumptions about an individual is nonsense, which someone before you was referring to.

I'm fairly sure I've already stated that while generalizations are accurate as descriptions of groups, they usually do not apply to every individual within that group (especially when dealing with people). Making assumptions about an individual on the basis of group statistics can be nonsense. However, imagine a situation in which the only information I have about a person is the group of which they are a part of. Knowing the statistical description of that group will allow me to make above chance attributions to the individual. For example, if all I know about a person is that they were born and raised in rural Alabama, I can guess that they'll likely vote republican. I may certainly be wrong, but my guess will be more accurate than flipping a coin. Now, if I am allowed to study the particular individual, then I may acquire information that overrides the statistical generalization since, as I've stated, generalizations do apply to every individual.

Third, much of statistics is based on a proxy. We can be lazy and use group statistics to make claims about groups, but I'd be hard pressed to think of an example where the group is not a proxy for something else.

Using group statistics to describe groups is lazy? Well, perhaps you can offer a better, more diligent method.

So how meaningful is it, really, when some stereotypes actually cause harm to particular groups and are not true of all individuals within that group? It's lazy thinking and, more importantly, oppressive in a lot of ways.

The initial question is whether generalizations can be true. As a statistical description of groups, the answer is yes. Now, I can imagine situations in which generalizations do cause harm to particular groups, but this says nothing regarding the accuracy of the generalizations themselves. Perhaps you are implying that certain ideas should be suppressed or ignored even if they are true, this is an interesting ethical dilemma but one that leads to a separate discussion. Again, if you read my initial post, I am not defending the stereotypes most people form from watching the news or scrolling through social media (in fact, I am very critical of these). I am defending statistical generalizations of the sort used by social scientists to describe the world around us.
lamerde
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7/29/2016 3:20:16 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/29/2016 2:05:24 AM, Axon85 wrote:

If your criteria is perfection, then you might as well ignore all scientific findings. Nothing in science is ever perfect.

No, it won't be perfect, and that's why in the social sciences you'll rarely find the author making broad claims about groups that aren't couched in very specific words.

I'm fairly sure I've already stated that while generalizations are accurate as descriptions of groups, they usually do not apply to every individual within that group (especially when dealing with people). Making assumptions about an individual on the basis of group statistics can be nonsense. However, imagine a situation in which the only information I have about a person is the group of which they are a part of. Knowing the statistical description of that group will allow me to make above chance attributions to the individual. For example, if all I know about a person is that they were born and raised in rural Alabama, I can guess that they'll likely vote republican. I may certainly be wrong, but my guess will be more accurate than flipping a coin. Now, if I am allowed to study the particular individual, then I may acquire information that overrides the statistical generalization since, as I've stated, generalizations do apply to every individual.


Is the bold a typo?

In any case, how are you defining stereotype? There are stereotypes that persist even in when they are not supported by evidence, fact, or statistics. If Alabama is a state that overwhelming votes Republican, there are actual numbers you can point to there, as opposed to a broad stereotype like "Mexicans are lazy." I wouldn't consider you hedging your bets on a person from a state with a history and evidence of voting a particular way a stereotype. A big difference between your example and what most people do when they stereotype is that your example is based on specific numbers that pertain to an entire population, not a sample with several proxies.

Using group statistics to describe groups is lazy? Well, perhaps you can offer a better, more diligent method.

Do you mean diligent or do you mean efficient? We can be cognitively efficient and still lazy, but that doesn't make it true or diligent.

The initial question is whether generalizations can be true.

The initial question was whether stereotypes can be true. Stereotypes are generalizations, but generalizations aren't always stereotypes.

As a statistical description of groups, the answer is yes.

So statistically, it is true to say that, in studies that measure prejudice, stereotype beliefs, discrimination attitudes, racist beliefs, etc., white people tend to be both implicitly and explicitly racist. Is it then okay to stereotype white people as being racist? Based on studies and historical evidence, should I assume every white person I meet is racist unless they prove otherwise? It would save me a lot of trouble.

Now, I can imagine situations in which generalizations do cause harm to particular groups, but this says nothing regarding the accuracy of the generalizations themselves.

Sure it does. Again, a lot of what we consider to be true of groups is simply a proxy for something else. For example, let's examine the stereotype that women are stupid. 100 years ago, fewer women were in the workforce and fewer women had formal higher education. Based on how we measure intelligence, 100 years ago it may have seemed true to make the statement "women are stupid." But obviously it's not the group membership, or the fact that they were women, that made women "stupid" - it was the fact that they didn't have opportunities for higher education or to be in the workforce.

So if that distinction is meaningless to a person, and they would rather hold on to their stereotype of a group based on a proxy, then that it lazy thinking devoid of truth.

Perhaps you are implying that certain ideas should be suppressed or ignored even if they are true, this is an interesting ethical dilemma but one that leads to a separate discussion. Again, if you read my initial post, I am not defending the stereotypes most people form from watching the news or scrolling through social media (in fact, I am very critical of these). I am defending statistical generalizations of the sort used by social scientists to describe the world around us.
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lamerde
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7/29/2016 5:02:16 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/28/2016 6:24:52 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 7/28/2016 6:03:06 PM, lamerde wrote:
It's funny because the same people who say or believe things like "there is truth in stereotypes" will fervently deny any kind of prejudice or bias exists that hinders particular groups. K.

The percentage of people who think stereotypes are accurate is relatively small,

Source?

even smaller if we restrict it to the people who would think of acting on them, and their effect is to some degree offset by those determined to prove the stereotypes wrong by taking actions which contradict them e.g., someone hiring a woman just because the position she's applying for is notorious for being male-dominated.

Based on what sources?

Not to say that stereotypes never have a negative effect on the groups concerned, but I'm tired of stereotype being the go-to explanation for every gap in performance. In most cases the gap in performance is responsible for the stereotype and the stereotype only somewhat magnifies the gap. Stereotypes are not randomly assigned.

The bold is not even remotely true. While you're correct that stereotypes are not "randomly assigned," that doesn't mean they are based on truth.

http://psycnet.apa.org... - Some groups have more power to stereotype than others.
http://psycnet.apa.org... - Stereotype threat is widely reported to exist among numerous groups.

Stereotypes exist and persist because of cognitive shortcuts in processing information.

Like I said before, many stereotypes are based on proxies of, not only the group, but the construct the groups are being compared on. These are prone to bias as much as anything else.

100 years ago a person might have argued, based on the information they had at the time, that women were less intelligent than men. The gap in performance didn't exist because that stereotype was true - it existed because of societal constraints on women of the time, as well as stereotypes. We can debate over whether the societal constraints came first or the stereotype, but to claim the stereotype was based on a true gap would be completely false.
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7/29/2016 5:36:04 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/28/2016 6:24:52 PM, dylancatlow wrote:

The percentage of people who think stereotypes are accurate is relatively small, even smaller if we restrict it to the people who would think of acting on them, and their effect is to some degree offset by those determined to prove the stereotypes wrong by taking actions which contradict them e.g., someone hiring a woman just because the position she's applying for is notorious for being male-dominated. Not to say that stereotypes never have a negative effect on the groups concerned, but I'm tired of stereotype being the go-to explanation for every gap in performance. In most cases the gap in performance is responsible for the stereotype and the stereotype only somewhat magnifies the gap. Stereotypes are not randomly assigned.

I hope you see the irony in this post claiming that few people believe stereotypes are accurate, and also, arguing in favour of the opinion that stereotypes are accurate.
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Axon85
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7/29/2016 5:38:26 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/29/2016 3:20:16 AM, lamerde wrote:
At 7/29/2016 2:05:24 AM, Axon85 wrote:

If your criteria is perfection, then you might as well ignore all scientific findings. Nothing in science is ever perfect.

No, it won't be perfect, and that's why in the social sciences you'll rarely find the author making broad claims about groups that aren't couched in very specific words.

Broad claims are always contentious in science, yet the bulk of the social sciences are grounded in making statistically based generalization from samples to populations.

I'm fairly sure I've already stated that while generalizations are accurate as descriptions of groups, they usually do not apply to every individual within that group (especially when dealing with people). Making assumptions about an individual on the basis of group statistics can be nonsense. However, imagine a situation in which the only information I have about a person is the group of which they are a part of. Knowing the statistical description of that group will allow me to make above chance attributions to the individual. For example, if all I know about a person is that they were born and raised in rural Alabama, I can guess that they'll likely vote republican. I may certainly be wrong, but my guess will be more accurate than flipping a coin. Now, if I am allowed to study the particular individual, then I may acquire information that overrides the statistical generalization since, as I've stated, generalizations do apply to every individual.


Is the bold a typo?


Yes! I meant to write generalizations do not apply to every to every individual. My mistake.
.
In any case, how are you defining stereotype? There are stereotypes that persist even in when they are not supported by evidence, fact, or statistics.
This is precisely what I am not defending. In my initial post, I not only criticize such sloppy generalization but elaborate on cultural and cognitive mechanisms by which they are formed.

If Alabama is a state that overwhelming votes Republican, there are actual numbers you can point to there, as opposed to a broad stereotype like "Mexicans are lazy."
Exactly. Hence the claim that southern folks are more likely to vote republican is a generalization and statistically accurate.

I wouldn't consider you hedging your bets on a person from a state with a history and evidence of voting a particular way a stereotype. A big difference between your example and what most people do when they stereotype is that your example is based on specific numbers that pertain to an entire population, not a sample with several proxies.
In that example we have voting data, but one can just as easily take a sufficiently large sample of people and reach the same statistical conclusion. In fact, this is done by social scientists all the time.

Using group statistics to describe groups is lazy? Well, perhaps you can offer a better, more diligent method.

Do you mean diligent or do you mean efficient? We can be cognitively efficient and still lazy, but that doesn't make it true or diligent.

The initial question is whether generalizations can be true.

The initial question was whether stereotypes can be true. Stereotypes are generalizations, but generalizations aren't always stereotypes.

The OP doesn't concretely define what they mean by stereotype. Most stereotypes tend to be rooted in some form of generalizations, and I argue that the latter can be accurate under the correct circumstances. I address this distinction in post #13.

As a statistical description of groups, the answer is yes.

So statistically, it is true to say that, in studies that measure prejudice, stereotype beliefs, discrimination attitudes, racist beliefs, etc., white people tend to be both implicitly and explicitly racist.
I presume you are referring to the AIT test, which does demonstrate implicit bias in whites as well as other ethnic groups. I am not sure what the explicit racism studies are. Polls or surveys? Anyway, I digress.

Is it then okay to stereotype white people as being racist? Based on studies and historical evidence, should I assume every white person I meet is racist unless they prove otherwise? It would save me a lot of trouble.

Not necessarily. I think you are viewing this in a deterministic framework when stats are inherently probabilistic. Imagine the following example: suppose you are traveling to a country where you will be an ethnic minority. Furthermore, suppose numerous studies repeatedly show that the people in this country are extremely racist and crime statistics indicate that your chances of being a victim of a racially motivated hate crime are very high. This does not mean that you will definitely be a victim of a hate crime, nor does it mean that every person you encounter in this country will be a racist. However, it does mean that the individuals you meet will be statistically more likely to discriminate against you or victimize you on the basis of race, as compared to less racist countries (again, statistics arms us with probabilities, not determined outcomes). Now, what you do with that information is up to you. I, for one, would not fault you if you decided to modify your behavior accordingly (i.e., maintain hypervegliance, travel with a friend, etc).

Now, I can imagine situations in which generalizations do cause harm to particular groups, but this says nothing regarding the accuracy of the generalizations themselves.

Sure it does. Again, a lot of what we consider to be true of groups is simply a proxy for something else. For example, let's examine the stereotype that women are stupid. 100 years ago, fewer women were in the workforce and fewer women had formal higher education. Based on how we measure intelligence, 100 years ago it may have seemed true to make the statement "women are stupid." But obviously it's not the group membership, or the fact that they were women, that made women "stupid" - it was the fact that they didn't have opportunities for higher education or to be in the workforce.

So in this example, to conclude that "women are stupid" would have been amateurish, to say the least. There is clearly a confound of educational differences that would jeopardize the validity of any comparison relating to true intelligence. In this case, the appropriate generalization would have been that, on average, women score lower than men on certain measures of aptitude.

Take another example - studies routinely show that women score higher than men on measures of social intelligence. This allows for a statistically rooted generalization concerning differences between males and females along this particular variable. In other words, a randomly chosen women from the population will likely score higher than a randomly chosen man (this probability can be computed). This, however, says nothing about the cause of the difference. Is the difference due to genetic/biological/evolutionary factors? Or, is due to culture and environment? This is an entirely separate question. Eitherway, the accuracy of a generalization can be assessed by experimental methodology, sample quality, appropriateness of statistical analysis, etc. It cannot, however, be assessed by societal ramifications.