In order to better understand what a stereotype is, we must first define the word. A stereotype is a conventional and oversimplified conception or belief. The negative connotation that usually accompanies stereotypes comes from the misunderstanding of a stereotype in itself. Stereotyping is a natural function of the human and cultural mindset, used in order to simplify and generalize otherwise complex realities. It is a double edged sword, because a stereotype can prove to be both positive and negative in its usages. One must go back to the origin of the stereotype to understand why and how each individual one was created.
The standardized conception or image of a specific group of people or objects serves as a sort of cookie cutter for our brain. It forces a simple pattern upon the masses and specific characteristics for all members of that group. The most common application of a stereotype is on people, but it is quite possible to stereotype objects as well. In examining popular culture it is useful to understand stereotypes as they directly reflect expressions of beliefs and values. Once a stereotype is identified and defined, it allows us to understand otherwise hidden views that people hold.
At time its serves valuable to label or classify individuals, such as the term freshman. It implies that he or she is young, inexperienced and naïve to their relatively new academic surroundings. Of course it is not true that all freshmen fit this picture, yet it serves the purpose of encouraging college professors to conduct introductory courses as to ease the transitioning process. Fraternities and sororities will host so called welcome weeks as to introduce the freshman to the college life, and host group activities planned especially for newcomers.
A second useful stereotype would be one that associates specific qualities and characteristics to a group as a whole. When children are young, they do not have the judgment or insight to un...