Stereotypes are a part of everyday human behaviour. The term stereotype was first used in its modern sense by Walter Lippman in his 1922 essay titled Public Opinion, where he suggested that “a stereotype may be so consistently and authoritatively transmitted in each generation from parent to child that it seems almost like a biological fact”.
Since then, stereotyping has been theorised, discussed and researched upon in many fields including social psychology, sociology and intercultural communication. Lippman (1922) and Katz & Braly (1933) theorised that “the process of stereotyping contributes to the dynamics of intercultural contact, in attributing to individuals the traits that allegedly characterise the group that the target person has been assigned to by the perceiver”.
It can be seen that stereotyping plays an important and useful role in human behaviour, but that it can also lead to negative beliefs and behaviours. They can help us to make faster and more informed judgements of other people, but can also be misleading and cause us to hold misleading and inaccurate views of others. There is clearly a great deal of research and theory available, but it is important to note that the study and understanding of stereotyping has an important role to play in many fields.