Understanding Preconceived Notions & Stereotypes

Contributors - Jon Grannis & Kari Heistad

Understand Preconceived Notions - A Quick Tip

Hear the word flour and what comes to mind is probably baking, bread, and pizza crust. The preconceived notion that flour is only found in baked goods can lead to surprise when it is discovered that it can also be an ingredient in: pasta sauce, hot dogs, salad dressing, soup, taco sauce, and even dog food. Having these notions about other people is like assuming that you know all of the ingredients of an item of food just by looking at it.

People are made up of many more “ingredients” than what is visible from the outside. It is only by taking the time to learn more about a person that their complete “ingredient” list is revealed.

Action Step: Get to know the complete “ingredient list” of someone on your team better this month.

Discussion Questions

1. How do assumptions about who other people are hinder our abilities to work well together?
2. What are stereotypes that others have had of you? How have those affected you?
3. How can finding out what a person is like inside help us to develop a better and relationship with each other?
4. What might keep us from getting to know each other better? How can we overcome those limitations?


Want to know more about stereotypes?

Known as preconceptions or preconceived ideas, refer to the ideas, beliefs, or opinions that people form about something or someone before having sufficient information or experience. These notions are usually based on limited knowledge, past experiences, stereotypes, cultural influences, or personal biases. They can be both positive and negative and can influence how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

Here are a few key points to know:
Preconceived notions often develop through a combination of personal experiences, social conditioning, media influence, and cultural norms. They can be influenced by family, education, religion, and societal expectations.

  • Stereotypes are generalized beliefs or assumptions about a particular group of people based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or nationality. Stereotypes can lead to unfair judgments and discriminatory behavior.
  • Cognitive biases are the inherent tendencies of the human mind to process information in certain ways. These biases can distort our perception, judgment, and decision-making, leading to errors and misunderstandings.
  • Confirmation biases occur when people seek or interpret information in a way that confirms their existing beliefs, while ignoring or dismissing evidence that contradicts their preconceived notions.

Challenging these notions requires open-mindedness, empathy, critical thinking, and a willingness to explore diverse perspectives and experiences. It involves questioning our own assumptions and actively seeking out new information to gain a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of a person, situation, or concept.

They can significantly impact our relationships with others and shape broader social dynamics. They can contribute to stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and the perpetuation of social inequalities. Overcoming them is essential for fostering inclusive, understanding, and harmonious relationships and societies. It's crucial to be aware of their influence and actively challenge them to promote fairness, empathy, and a more accurate understanding of the world.

Interested in learning more? Drop us a line. clientservices@sollah.com or 800-300-8880.

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