"A stereotype goes beyond categorizing to the level of prediction. A stereotype is simply a set of beliefs about the probable behavior of members of a particular group. . . . Stereotypes may or may not be accurate" (Trenholm and Jesen 145).
I was at a gathering recently and was able to observe stereotyping at work in a number of exchanges between others at the gathering. The particular gathering was related to a political issue. One of the three speakers at the gathering was named Chris. In fact, Chris was scheduled to be the first speaker. I happen to know Chris on a casual basis. Chris is a beautiful blonde woman who most definitely does not fit into the "dumb blonde" stereotype. She is a brilliant woman with several degrees. However, because she is not yet well-known in her field, and, because her first name can be taken as either male or female, few in the audience were aware of who she was. Because she and I know each other casually, we were sitting next to one another before the night of speakers began.
This situation allowed me to hear the exchange between Chris and a handsome young man who found his way over to her to show his interest. Of course, his interest was based on the "dumb blonde" stereotype.
The young man--Tony, as he introduced himself--began the conversation with Chris with a brief comment about the evening of speakers: "Hi. Looking forward to the speakers?" With a quick glance at me and a wink, Chris said, "Oh, yes, very much. I'm especially looking forward to the first speaker." Tony introduced himself--first name only--as did Chris. Then Tony asked aloud, himself as much as Chris, who the "first speaker was." He looked in the program and saw that the speaker's name--"Chris"--was the same name as the woman before him.
"Oh," he said, "any relation?," and laughed. Chris did not let on, and I was certainly enjoying myself too much to save him. It apparently did not dawn in him that this beautiful b...