Reading Comprehension - Stereotypes

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text and do the comprehension questions


StereotypesA stereotype is a fixed idea that people have about what specific social groups or individuals are like, especially an idea that is wrong. Other terms that are associated with the term stereotype are prejudice and cliché. The term has a Greek origin: stereos means solid or firm and typos mean blow, impression, engraved or mark. The term was first used in the printing business. The first modern English use of the term was in 1850, meaning "image perpetuated without change."

Because stereotypes are standardized and simplified ideas of groups, based on some prejudices, they are not derived from objective facts, but rather subjective and often unverifiable ideas. As Sociologist Charles E. Hurst states* "One reason for stereotypes is the lack of personal, concrete familiarity that individuals have with persons in other racial or ethnic groups. Lack of familiarity encourages the lumping together of unknown individuals".

The existence of stereotypes may be explained by the need of groups of people to view themselves as more normal or more superior than other groups. Consequently, stereotypes may be used to justify ill-founded prejudices or ignorance and prevent people of stereotyped groups from entering or succeeding in various activities or fields. The stereotyping group are, generally, reluctant to reconsider their attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group.

Stereotypes may affect people negatively. This includes forming inaccurate and distorted images and opinions of people. Stereotypes may also be used for scapegoating or for making general erroneous judgments about people. Some stereotyping people may feel comfortable when they prevent themselves from emotional identification with the stereotyped group, which leads to xenophobic or racist behavior. Finally another serious consequence of stereotypes is the feeling of inferiority that the stereotyped people may have and which may impair their performance.

*Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. 6. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc, 2007

Source: Wikipedia


  1. The word stereotype has:
    a. a Greek origin.
    b. an English origin.
  2. Stereotypes are used to:
    a. make generalizations about different groups of people.
    b. have an accurate understanding of the stereotyped people.
  3. If you label people in terms of stereotypes, you will probably :
    a. be having an exact judgment of their worth.
    b. be behaving in a discriminatory way

Related materials

Vocabulary related to "culture".
Exercise on the vocabulary related to "culture".