The Social Psychology of Stereotypes: Implications for Media Audiences -
Bradley W. Gorham
In this article, the author, Bradley W. Gorham, stresses that stereotypes exist in every individuals’ mind whether the individual is aware of his prejudice or not. Gorham states that stereotypes are “structures in our minds” or “schema” which help individuals to effectively and easily translate messages they may view about a group of people based on a few applicable characteristics of that specific group. Thus, schemas make it possible for an individual to know the “specifics” of a group of people and what to expect from that group. In effect, these expectations are applied directly when we encounter an individual of a specific race or social group which in turn influences the way we may construe the situation. Gorham continues to infer that the conclusions we develop about a person are partial in support of the social groups we are directly associated with. Therefore, if an individual who is part of the group we identify with makes a mistake, we are more apt to forgive or be more understanding than if an individual unassociated with our “ingroup” acts wrongly. Thus, stereotypes work in favor of the majority. Different images in media trigger different stereotypes within us as well, sometimes incoherently. Gorham argues that we automatically place stereotypes on individuals, frequently without intentions of being prejudiced. Although sometimes unconscious, this automatic prejudice is something that needs to be dealt with. Gorham confronts this situation in stating that the only way to end “stereotype-congruent interpretations” of media images is to comprehend our role in the continuation of these biases. I interpret this to mean that we must make a conscious decision to realize and deal with the unconscious prejudices we may have instilled within us so that we can interpret media messages, or create new media, that is unbiased.
Gordham, Bradley W. "Considerations of Media Effects." The Social Psychology of Stereotypes (2004): 14-21.
The White Male: Desperate or Distracted?
In this advertisement for the new Chevrolet Aveo, the attractive white male is portrayed as someone who is desperate and only interested and distracted with attractive young women. He is depicted as someone who is helpless and stupidly trying to attract the attention of the female who has no interest. The woman is depicted as a strong, independent female who has no interest in the immature antics of the male who is desperately trying to get her to go out for coffee with him. They participate in a car chase in which the male is again distracted by attractive young women on the road and almost crashes into the initial 'attraction' in the Aveo. However, the woman has such control over the situation that she is able to avoid the accident and eventually wins the race. After the race is over, the young man asks again if she'd like coffee, thinking that he has won her over, but she again refuses and speeds off, blowing dust in his face.
The first time I viewed this advertisement, I didn't really look into the fact that the white male in this ad is definately the subordinate in the situation. He's depicted as stupid and childish, concerned only with the "winning-over" of the attractive young woman. After viewing this advertisement a second time, I realized the stereotypes placed upon the young man. I also pin-pointed some of the stereotypes related to the young woman. She is strong and confident and has too much on her mind to be distracted with men. She almost serves as an example and an encourager to all young attractive females in dealing with the antics of young men.
As Gorham pointed out, I was able to associate with the young woman, as I am also a young woman, and I almost felt angry with the relentless young man in the advertisement. This advertisement depicts the stereotypes caucasian men deal with as well as the stereotypes placed upon independent women, obviously gaining the approval of women in hopes that they would be interested in purchasing a car that might make them more independent (and hopefully more attractive to men).