KNEE-JERK REACTIONS TO STEREOTYPES

iibp-admin Anveshan, Issue 1

Anita Butani, School Psychologist

There was a post recently on a platform for professionals which was about the international state of affairs and the consequent return of non-resident Indians (NRIs) to India in the upcoming days and months.

The post was a good example of stereotyping a certain set of people who have been grouped for purposes of collective reference. In social psychology, a stereotype is “a fixed, over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people,” (McLeod, 2015). Furthermore, “stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudiced attitudes,” (McLeod, 2015). In the post, it was not a very pleasant reference to this “stereotypical group” veering towards derogatory, and begrudging.

It was understandably a reaction to the international events, or resolutions by some countries; the implication being that many members of this stereotyped group would no longer be the “guests” that they have been, but instead, ready to join the local workforce and occupy residential spaces.

The noticeable factor here is that it is a reaction, which can be termed a “knee-jerk” for reference purpose. The Cambridge Dictionary states that a knee-jerk is “a quick reaction that does not allow you time to consider something carefully,” (Cambridge Dictionary, n.d.) For example, you would typically experience a knee-jerk when your doctor taps your knee with a small mallet, and your knee responds by suddenly kicking out.

However, the reaction caused a ripple, and several others used the platform to vent out, and even resort to abusive language for this “stereotyped group”. It did elicit a weak response from a couple of members of “this group” as well.

It is noteworthy to reflect on the “reaction” because it was converted to a post on a professional platform which is gradually being taken to become more a social medium than profession worthy content. Not only that, the comments on the post by viewers added fuel, having being incited and using this very space to let out vociferously.

Also noteworthy is the propagation of the idea that if a person wants to be visible on a public platform, it is advisable to post regularly and more the interest generated by means of likes and comments, the more visibility one gets. This is what effectively seems to cause the dilution of professional content and leaning towards social media content.

uld this post have been more worthy if instead of reacting, some thought would have been given to the potential benefits and discomforts, and put forth as a discussion? Could it then perhaps have elicited healthier responses and a fruitful discussion with several solutions to be inferred from the discussion?

Reaction or response, it is our choice, decision and for many of us, a way of life.

An artwork by Ms. Soniya B Shet
Being a student of Psychology and a social worker, Soniya Shet brings out her thoughts and ideas about mental health awareness through artworks.

References

McLeod, S. A. (2015, October 24). Stereotypes. Simply Psychology.

https://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html

Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Knee-jerk. In Dictionary.Cambridge.org dictionary. Retrieved July,

19, 2020, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/knee-jerk