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Assumptions and Stereotypes


In Maslow's “A Theory of Human Motivation”

Through life, we collect volumes of assumptions and stereotypes learned through education and personal experience. U name it. Assumptions are everywhere around us, in everything we do and say. Who has the time to research every little thing as it happens?

Both assumption and stereotype are survival mechanisms. Survival depends upon past learned assumptions.

Stereotyping fast-tracks the response time


Assumption and stereotypes may assist and interfere with interpersonal interactions.

Paraphrase Maslow:

The function of education is to neutralize apparent dangers through knowledge.

I am not afraid of thunder because I know something about thunder.

  • Assumption: belief that something is true based on tenuous or no evidence
  • Stereotype: positive or negative, oversimplified image or idea often based on assumptions

Survival Logic Dictates Assume

  • survive if you believe XYZ today
  • XYZ ensures survive tomorrow
  • XYZ reinforced accurate assumption

Assumptions develop and are stored in memory as stereotypes along side associated thoughts and memories.

We go into auto pilot until a bonefide V8 forhead slap paradigm shift occurs.

None of us are the same person we were 20 years ago or 3 years ago, or last month.

We hope to be a different person tomorrow because that means we would have learned a thing or two about existence and our importance to the universe or lack thereof.

But it is not easy these days.

Synergetic media targets on multiple levels, visual, audio, sound, illusion to effectively reinforce or weaken the image or idea in our pointy little heads.

Hopefully we all have changed many assumptions and stereotypes throughout the course of our lives. In addition to the BIG ones media constantly throws in our faces:

Adoption, Sex, Marriage, Men, Children, Women, Abortion, Religion, Race, Politics

rule of two

Assumptions and stereotypes are easy targets for constant bombardment by media, Internet, TV, radio, books, advertising, movies, film industry, type casting, sound track, wardrobe, music, simplistic plots... I could go on …

IMAGE Synergetic media

Stories, folklore, myths & legends, movies, TV and videos all ascribe assumed qualities and characteristics to groups of people.

  • Off-key, sad music changes to melodious happy
  • Drum beats and flute music - American Indians
  • wise seer, usually old, blind or lame and harmless
  • chopsticks, gongs
  • digeriedoo western
  • southern theme banjo – car chases, bar fights
  • ignorance through accents – the souther the accent the stupider the acting charactor

Media Advertising & ideologies push and pull to reinforce and admonish stereotyping assumptions.

Media treats assumption & stereotyping as though they are two opposing and separate cause and effect entities:

  • right vs left
  • bad vs good
  • fear vs safety

The only things that can change the cycle are:

  • awareness
  • curiosity
  • desire to learn

Easy right?


Plinko Brain

Be Your Own Joker

Break the “either/or” two-pronged pattern of 2-D Thinking

  • right vs wrong,
  • left vs right,
  • fear vs safe

Apply Maslow's Theory of Human Motivation

  • Growth,
  • Relatedness,
  • Existence

Test your paradigms:

Jot down some first impressions that comes to mind in the columns for each name listed below.

Research to determine whether these assumptions are true or baseless, oversimplified stereotypes.

Stereotype Form

Print and hand out to participants - Enter the first impression they have with each word on the list. Discuss.

Print Assumptions & Stereotype Work Sheet