The Invention of the Stereotype
Prior to the early twentieth century, the only people who used the word ‘stereotype’ were workers in the printing industry. The creation of the stereotype was a more efficient way of printing as it could be stored away and used to print the page when required without the time, effort and expense of composing the whole thing again. Stereotypes are fundamentally cultural and are used by the perceiver to make sense of an otherwise confusing and complex world. Walter Lippmann argued that stereotypes preserve from the bewildering effects of attempting to see the social world in its totality and diversity, which can lead to confusion and inaction. Stereotypes structure social perception and influence the interpretation of the behaviour of people. Also, if a person’s experience corresponds to the expectations of the stereotype, then it reinforces the stereotype. There are many ways in which stereotypes have been studied after Lippmann.