The effect of racial stereotyping

Racial stereotypes are perceptions about a particular group of people that are not necessarily true. They are deeply ingrained in society and people view individuals of that group through the lens of these stereotypes. Some of these stereotypes are openly broadcasted on media making them more popular. These perceptions generalize the character or actions of a group, for instance, white students are smarter than black American students. These stereotypes have different effects on their targets.


A general thought or idea about a particular group that demeans their potential can lead to stigma. For instance, in Hollywood movies, most Africans and black Americans are portrayed as villains and the whites are depicted as heroes. Such incidents can lead to Africans and black Americans being discriminated against and viewed as people with less potential.

Low self-esteem

Stereotypes about the capabilities of a group can lead to low self-esteem. It affects the working memory leading to the target of the stereotype believing in it, for instance, the belief that whites are more intelligent may make Africans believe that their intellectual capacity is lower compared to that of the whites and they cannot match their level in intelligence.

Stereotype threat

Stereotype threat is rampant among the stereotyped group. It is the threat and the anxiety caused by the stereotype itself. This raises self-doubt and makes it difficult to try out a new task as they are afraid of the fact that the stereotype is true and the results of their actions may match those of the stereotype.

Biased judgment

Stereotypes can lead to biased judgments that are not necessarily true, for instance, the belief that most African women cannot lead can lead to biased judgments about African women which are not necessarily true as some women are gifted and can take up leadership roles and manage them even better than men.

Stereotypes can also change the way people are treated. In the case of African women not taking up leadership roles, such stereotypes can deny women chances of leading as people perceive them as followers, not leaders. This stereotype affects women directly and leads to lost opportunities.

Racial stereotypes harm their targets. They not only drastically lower their self-esteem but also lead to discrimination, biased judgments and stereotype threats. The media should alter their content to water down racial stereotypes that have negative effects on the target population.  It should depict people of all races as equals.


Mastro, D. (2009). Effects of racial and ethnic stereotyping. In Media Effects (pp. 341-357). Routledge.

Solorzano, D. G. (1997). Images and words that wound: Critical race theory, racial stereotyping, and teacher education. Teacher education quarterly, 5-19.

Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (1993). A cognitive‐developmental approach to racial stereotyping and reconstructive memory in Euro‐American children. Child Development, 64(5), 1507-1518.



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