Halloween Costumes Stereotypes Essay

Words: 649
Pages: 3

With thousands of students (supposedly) learning innovative ideas, partying late at night, and navigating new relationships, college is a very social place. Yet for all of their vibrancy, colleges also tend to be hotbeds of protest – particularly against perceived social injustices. Yale is no stranger to vocal activists willing to speak their mind, as seen through recent racial controversies.

One such controversy, involving Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis and his wife, Associate Master Erika, questioned whether people criticize culturally insensitive costumes disproportionately. To be clear, I seek not to debate the delicate line between respect and free speech. Still, analyzing how insensitive Halloween costumes may (or may not) worsen preexisting racial stereotypes falls well into the realm of social psychology.

Most stereotypes serve a useful purpose. Regardless, they nevertheless have four major issues: they are inaccurate, overused, self-perpetuating, and automatic (page 536). In fact, as Hamilton and Gifford discovered in a 1976 study, even direct observation can cause people to assign inaccurate stereotypes to arbitrary groups. Despite seeing the same proportion of misbehavior in two different-sized (yet
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Because minorities by definition are relatively rare compared to the general population, seeing a high proportion of, say, charcoal-smeared Kim Kardashian partygoers acting drunk may subconsciously cause other partygoers to assign negative stereotypes to all blacks. Arguably caused more by the brain’s poor grasp of statistics (see Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow) than by purposeful racism, Hamilton’s findings still have disturbing implications. The actions of an individual minority (or someone pretending to be one) really do disproportionately reflect other members of that same