The Negative Side of Stereotypes

When I was in eighth grade, I was on the phone with a friend and she was telling me about a seventh grader who took an eighth grade honors math class. This shocked me for two reasons: one, because of how smart he was, and second, because he was not Asian and did not fit into that “smart” stereotype. The “smart” stereotype that a certain group of people were smarter than others had gotten in my head and almost brainwashed me into thinking and believing that. Stereotypes are used all over the world and can cause many conflicts. It can negatively affect someone because stereotypes can cause unwanted failure and can refrain someone from being their best self. 

There are many outcomes of stereotyping, and a big one is that stereotypes can cause a lack of success. They have high and/or low standards and society expects people to reach and accomplish that standard. For example, a stereotype could be that boys excel at sports. This sets up a standard and an expectation that everyone expects from all boys. However, if a girl becomes good at a sport and is better than a boy, people are shocked. If a boy isn’t good at sports, he may feel defeated and disappointed that he could not reach that standard or expectation. On the flip side, if the standards of stereotypes are too low, it does not push the person to try harder or to be better.

Furthermore, stereotypes can refrain someone from being their best self. An example would be a stereotype threat. According to the article, “The Good, the Bad, and the What of Stereotypes”, a stereotype threat is defined as, “People who face a stereotype threat are always in fear of doing something that could potentially confirm a negative stereotype.” People have trouble truly being themselves due to the anxiety or fear that they might fit into a disliked stereotype. On the contrary, if you do fit into a stereotype, people expect you to only be that stereotype. For example, as written in “The Good, the Bad, and the What of Stereotypes”, if you are a class clown, people always expect you to be funny. So, if you are upset, people expect you to hide it because you are the class clown. Additionally, a physiological source, “What is Stereotype Threat,” gives evidence stating that, “Keller and Dauenheimer (2003) showed that girls’ reports of frustration, disappointment, and sadness accounted for poor math performance under stereotype threat.” This is all because of stereotypes and the “level” the person must reach because they are a certain race or gender.

Although some people may agree with this, others would say if you fail to reach people’s expectations, it can help the person learn and try again. This is a valid point, however, if you disappoint someone’s expectations, it can cause indifference and cause them to stop trying to meet everyone’s expectations. Another opinion about stereotypes is that there are some positive and uplifting stereotypes. For example, the “all Asians are smart” stereotype. While this stereotype may seem positive, if there is an Asian who may not be as intelligent, it would make them feel unacceptable to society. Also, stereotypes could be biased to a group. The other people who aren’t included in the stereotype can become overlooked or feel like they’re being left out.

All in all, the negative effects of stereotyping could include failure and can cause one to hide who they truly are. The high standards of stereotype leaves people with unwelcomed frustration and disappointment. People do not show their real personality because they are afraid that they will be wrongly categorized into a stereotype. Meanwhile, some may think that some stereotypes are positive, but it is most likely only positive to a certain group causing the others to feel unwanted. The day I called that friend and figured out about the seventh grader made me realize the powerful effect of stereotypes. Hopefully, the future generations will ignore all different stereotypes and prevent them from being used so that they won’t have a similar situation as I did.


Prince, Karen. “The Good, the Bad, and the What of Stereotypes.” Taylor’s College 14 

May 2020

Stroessner, Steve and Good, Catherine. “What is Stereotype Threat.” Adapted by R. Rhys pp.10