Through the work of Waillet & Roskam (2012), it was noted that social categorization can be interpreted as a manifestation of the human drive to “belong” in that humans have a tendency to seek for social interactions and be part of a group which results in creation of group specific labeling and identification.
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Catrina (2012) explains that this in turn manifests itself in a form of “humanocentric speciesim” wherein groups tend to define individuals that are outside their selected cadre of group and whose definingning characteristics is “the others” (Catrina, 2012).
This creates what is presently known as racism and racial prejudice wherein people tend to view people of other cultures or races as inferior to their own based on the different group practices utilized by other groups which are therefore “inferior” (Catrina, 2012).
As such, it can be stated that such practices do have an impact on the manner in which people construct their views on the way in which the world should operate, as well as how they view other people. The racism present in the U.S. during early to mid 1900s, as well as the treatment of homosexuals can be considered as evidence to how social categorization impacts the manner in which individuals are viewed.
However, it should be noted that social cues can be misinterpreted resulting in a case of erroneous self-categorization. Instances of this happening can be seen in the case of minority populations within the U.S. wherein young men of African American, Mexican or Latin American descent are often connected to acts of violence, crime and other similar criminal activities. The pervasiveness of such a social view has reached a point that minority populations are immediately connected to criminal activity.
Though a person’s race and skin color have nothing to do with creating an inherent tendency to commit criminal activity, the fact remains that studies, such as those by Catrina (2012), show that young teens from such populations eventually consign themselves to being exactly what society has deemed them to be (i.e. criminals in the making) since for them it is the only way to justify the lack of opportunities they experience due to their race instead of actively working towards proving such a misconception as being completely erroneous.
One way in which the harm from such effects could be lessened would be to simply develop a better sense of “self” and not develop the need to conform one’s view according to what is currently popular. Through the work of Rhodes (2013), it was noted that the mental shortcuts brought about by social categorization can have a variety of ill-effects of which the development of false assumptions or the acceptance of false truths are among the most prevalent.
This can be seen in cases involving absolute faith in religious doctrine despite science proving otherwise. To avoid such ill-effects, it is necessary to avoid the temptation to desire to conform one’s view with that of the group and instead pursue a method of thinking that is more critical and analytic (Maner, 2012).
It is only when an individual focuses on developing lines of thought that is based on established facts and the scientific method that they can avoid problems related to improper social categorization resulting in a better mental state.
Catrina, S. (2012). Social Categorization as a Manner of Creating Boundaries, Avoiding and Discriminating against the „Other(s)”. Sphere Of Politics / Sfera Politicii, 20(2), 3-10.
Maner, J. E. (2012). Motivated Social Categorization: Fundamental Motives Enhance People’s Sensitivity to Basic Social Categories. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology, 103(1), 70.
Rhodes, M. (2013). How Two Intuitive Theories Shape the Development of Social Categorization. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 12-16
Waillet, N., & Roskam, I. (2012). Developmental and Social Determinants of Religious Social Categorization. Journal Of Genetic Psychology, 173(2), 208-220