What is a divisive stereotype?


A stereotype is a mental representation of a social group and its members. Researchers in the cognitive sciences view stereotypes as mental categories that enable people to process information rapidly and efficiently. We use stereotypes in our daily lives to make sense of the world around us.

What makes stereotypes divisive?

Stereotypes can and do assume a set of norms, values, and beliefs. In some cases, they may lead to perceptions of people which are divisive and harmful, and can play a role in inciting and extending conflict and violence. CELL’s work focuses on such “divisive stereotypes,” which draw distinctions between “us” versus “them,” and “insiders” versus “outsiders."

Divisive stereotypes can discriminate against “race,” ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and other forms of social and political organization. They are written into the history, geography, religion, and social studies textbooks used by primary and secondary level classrooms in every country.