A stereotype (from Greek στερεός stereos, solid, durable, space ' and τύπος typos, form, in this way, -like ') is a description of a person or group that is memorable and pictorially and as typical matters alleged simplified in this relates. Stereotypes are verbalized, they allow alone to make the associated complex content quickly present the enumeration of the stereotypical notion. Here is the categorization of people based on certain characteristics (such as hairstyle, skin color, age, gender, etc.) for people completely normal, fast, and almost automatically running process. Automatic stereotypes are in the area of ​​social cognition of great interest. The broad and interdisciplinary applied term is not uniformly defined in terms of a precise operationalization. Among the related terms in the semantic field include prejudice - cliché - Scheme - Frame - and insult.

Introduced the term in 1922 by Walter Lippmann. His work " Public Opinion " - Public opinion - was groundbreaking for the research on stereotypes in his understanding of the stereotype is defined as " a cognitive -economic defense means against the necessary expenses of a comprehensive detailed experience" ( Dröge 1967, 134). .

Social scientific use

The most prevalent use of the term is in a social science context. Here stereotypes are based on boundaries and the formation of categories of subjects to whom complexes of characteristics or behaviors are attributed. So they set themselves clear of schemes from which not primarily social information includes (eg prototypes). Stereotypes are further (as opposed to sociotypes ) mainly characterized in that they emphasize often particularly limited and obvious properties caricaturing and generalize incorrectly in some cases. A simplified representation of other groups of people so facilitates the everyday interactions with strangers very much. By external characteristics ( eg, age, clothing, appearance, gender) triggered stereotypes serve as a reference structures for expected and expected behaviors (→ self-fulfilling prophecy ). However, the thus ensured simplification also has disadvantages and may partly manifest social injustices. Once characteristics such as gender or skin color are filled with negative reviews, which limit the interaction of people in many areas of life significantly, it is called prejudice.

In psychology refers to behaviors or movements as stereotypes that are often repeated and independent of the specific environmental situation often seemingly pointless.

In contrast, there are prejudices - on the one hand as an abstract- general preconceptions, on the other hand as attitudes towards individuals. Stereotypes, however, include not per se a (negative or positive ) evaluation, they reduce complexity and also offer opportunities for identification.


Stereotypes are by Albrecht Lehmann relatively rigid individually applicable mental images. These relate to such issues as equity as a foreign stereotype to individuals and groups, nations, ethnic groups, "race", social groups, religions, regions, landscapes and so on. What is referred to as a stereotype, arises in the perception and evaluation of a detail, which is used in uncritical generalization of an actually existing reality. Stereotypes are used to simplify complex reality and re-arrange. Sense that they act as identification model and promote the cohesion of " groups " of different shape and size, from the family to the supranational alliance. The folklore regarded fundamentals of stereotypes in their various cultural contexts and examines the impact of traditional stereotypes in the present to recognize based on topics such as tourism, political relations, food behavior and intercultural communication.

Methods include, among others, questioning and media reports. Stereotypes and Ethnophaulismen as German cabbage eaters, french dudes and Dutch merchants and miser circulate partly already since centuries and have appeared in cartoons and commercial art evidence from the 18th century.

Past research on stereotypes

According to the historian and Easter Europe specialist Hans Henning Hahn stereotypes are strengthened collective attributions with predominantly emotional content that can only be grasped in their linguistic or pictorial representations. The stereotype research does not attempt to determine the veracity of stereotypes or disprove, but to interpret their function and effect in social discourse to the genesis, function and effect of stereotypes on collective identity formation. The interaction between self- ascribed car stereotypes and foreign ascribed to hetero stereotypes is of particular interest in what he considers among other things the example of the Sudeten Germans.

Literature and Linguistics

The Intercultural Hermeneutics (formerly imagology ) examines the " image of the other country," what knowledge of foreign cultures, languages ​​and mentalities requires as an intense preoccupation with the values ​​and beliefs of their own culture. The aim of intercultural hermeneutics is also a self-analysis by external analysis. It is interesting how stereotypes arise. Just literary texts have helped other cultures almost bring the domestic audience and to design a long effective image of the other. Stereotypes about other nations are closely connected to the self-image of judgmental nation.

Is known among other things Madame de Staël About Germany, which a regionalist diverse, emotionally and imaginatively stressed medieval picturesque, and backward and harmless Germany and the stereotype of poets and thinkers after 1815 decades the view of the French elites coined with the image.

Significant aftereffects also had the image of America Cornelis de Pauw, who described the colonization of America the late 18th century as unnatural and reprehensible as well as the natives as silly and impotent Woses. The New World had introduced only drawbacks inflationstreibendem precious metal and the addictive substance of tobacco. Pauw put it, without ever having seen America or Americans, a violent scientists dispute about the "nature of Americans " in transition.