What are Stereotypes? How Do They Help or Hurt People?
Grade Level: Middle School, High School; Type: Social Science
- Learn about various stereotypes, “bad” and “good”.
- Learn about the adaptive advantages and positive consequences of stereotypes.
- Learn about the negative consequences of stereotypes.
In this project you will explore the scientific literature on stereotypes, "good" and "bad," as well as the known consequences, positive and negative, of stereotypes. In addition, you will learn about the concept of adaptation and adaptive utility, and note the theses of any papers or studies that address the adaptive utility of stereotyping others. You will also investigate any research that suggests how we can mitigate the negative consequences of stereotyping others. Finally, you will write up the findings of your investigations and write a summary conclusion about our tendency to stereotype.
- Access to a computer and an internet connection
- Poster board
A computer and internet connection can be found at most public libraries and schools, and paper and poster board can be found at any office supply store, and many drug and grocery stores.
Archival Research Science Project Procedure
Research stereotypes and the social psychology terms “in group” and “out group”. Then answer the following questions: What are some "good stereotypes" and "bad stereotypes"?
Include good and bad racial/nationality and gender stereotypes.
- What are some of the positive consequences of "good stereotypes"?
- What, if any, are the positive consequences of "bad stereotypes"?
- What are some of the negative consequences of "good stereotypes"?
- What are some of the negative consequences of "bad stereotypes"?
- Why do we have the tendency to stereotype? Is there ‘adaptive utility’ to stereotyping and if so, what might that be?
- Research any studies or articles that suggest how we can mitigate the negative consequences of stereotyping others.
- Write up the findings of your investigations and write a summary conclusion about our tendency to stereotype. Create a poster that displays your research and include pictures and/or graphs that you discovered while researching this project that you found interesting and/or informative.
Terms/Concepts: Stereotypes; “Good stereotypes” and “bad stereotypes”; Adaptation and adaptive utility; “in groups” and “out groups”
Note: Because this is an archival research project, you will need to do research beyond the suggestions here.
All Stereotypes are True Except...I: What are Stereotypes?, Scientific American
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.