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Stereotype Analysis: Real or Fake?

Author: Qinghao Ma

Editors: Rachel Chen, Flynn Ma

Artist: Lalita Ma

Stereotypes—biased and unfounded opinions that many people hold about all things or people with certain characteristics—are widely prevalent in society today, often based on factors such as culture, social status, race, gender, and religion. It can be argued that some stereotypes bring positive benefits to a certain group of people; however, it is important to remember that stereotypes are often over-generalized and not always true. Some of the most popular stereotypes include how girls would rather play with dolls while boys prefer cars, Asian Americans are particularly intelligent, and rich people are heartless. To break down whether or not these statements are correct, one must analyze factual sources to understand the root of where these assumptions came from.

Do girls really prefer dolls and roleplaying, while boys prefer cars and buildings? According to Romper, girls gravitate towards dolls because they are “socially interesting” and help their “social and verbal abilities develop.” On the other hand, boys may tend to prefer cars because they are “mechanically interesting” and help strengthen their “visuospatial skills.” However, research from Proceedings of the National Academies of Science paper reveals that men's and women's brains are identical, suggesting that the preference towards dolls or cars is entirely learned and not innate. Thus, this stereotype cannot be scientifically proven and should definitely not be assumed for all individuals, as each person has their own preferences.

One of the most popular cultural stereotypes is that Asian Americans are especially intelligent, made due to the large percentage of Asian Americans in elite universities, as well as careers in the STEM fields. The idea that Asian Americans are innately intelligent is frequently used to explain why they are highly accomplished in areas such as academics, business, and technology. According to data from Best Colleges, Asian-American students averaged an SAT score of 1219 in 2023; in comparison, white students averaged a score of 1082. As a result of this stereotype, it’s also largely believed that Asian Americans are more fortunate and privileged when doing things like applying for jobs or schools. However, despite this seemingly beneficial assumption, Asian Americans face racial discrimination and microaggressions anyway, resulting in lower wages or a lack of leadership positions. This shows that stereotypes are not a reliable way to assume a group of people and that there is no accurate way to determine whether one over-generalized group of people is smarter or better than another.

Lastly, another popularly known social stereotype is that rich people are heartless. It is assumed that rich people are too rich and that it is difficult for them to empathize with those who are poor. This stereotype likely originated from the Middle Ages, as the aristocracy was seen as superior and separate from the rest of the population. Despite this, many rich people are affiliated with philanthropy—the idea of promoting the welfare of others by donating money to a good cause. A notable example of this is the initiative by Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, and Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, called The Giving Pledge. This initiative encourages the wealthy to commit to giving at least 50% of their wealth to philanthropic causes." The CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg later joined this pledge to help the cause. Furthermore, according to Forbes, two-thirds of the billionaires on The Forbes 400 have donated 1% to 5% of their wealth, which is at least one million to five million dollars. This demonstrates that not all rich people are heartless, and it provides even more of a reason as to why stereotypes are not an accurate way to create assumptions about someone.

It is important to know that stereotypes are never reliable for making assumptions about anyone. Regardless of a person’s cultural, social, racial, sexual, or religious background, it is crucial to know that no single assumption can be made about an entire group or population. Not all girls prefer dolls and roleplaying, and not all boys prefer cars and buildings. Not all Asians are smarter and more successful compared to the other races, and not all rich people are heartless. Even though some people seem to align with certain stereotypes, it is still important to approach every new person with an open mind, free from any preconceptions.



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