University of Oulu

Exploring stereotypes : analyzing the effect of stereotyping on identity, and role performance

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Author: Pajala, Petra1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
Pages: 30
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : P. Pajala, 2016
Publish Date: 2017-01-14
Thesis type: Bachelor's thesis


Stereotyping and classification are something every person does on a daily basis. Even though it is a natural phenomenon, the strict and uncompromising stereotyping of people is not beneficial. In this study I wish to show the ways in which stereotypes can negatively affect an individual’s life. More often than not, stereotypes are studied through how they affect one’s perception of the world. In this thesis, however, I study the other side — how stereotypes directed towards an individual affect how they see themselves in their roles, and how they act.

The theoretical framework is based on the multiplicity of identity and the idea that the identity is formed of several roles that work together to form who we are. In addition, I introduce a relatively new way of viewing the multiplicity of identity: the theory of intersectionality.

The thesis itself is a literary review founded on four case studies that serve as examples of how stereotypes cause individuals to feel uncomfortable with who they are, or see themselves in a negative way. In some cases, this causes role conflict. In others, it causes the individual to unknowingly comply to stereotypical behaviour, be it negative or positive.

After an introduction to the case studies, I move on to a compilation of coping methods that were described in most of the case studies. These methods are ways in which individuals with either conflicting or very stereotyped roles try to cope with their everyday life.

The main conclusion of this thesis is that there is one thing all the case studies have in common: the issues the individuals have are not caused by them, but instead, the society. Societal expectations and pressure to conform to a certain way of living or being are the main cause of people to not be able to express themselves to the fullest extent of their abilities.

The theory of intersectionality offers new ways to examine issues of identity. In the future, it will be an important addition to the study of roles and identity.

As a future educator, I saw a need for this perspective to be taken into account, as teachers more than anyone should be aware of categorizing pupils. Although this thesis is based on studies conducted on adults, I do see a common thread that shows how the outside world and the people around us affect the way we act.

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Copyright information: © Petra Pajala, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.