This article is part of the One on One project. In it, we talk about relationships with ourselves and others. If the topic is close to you, share your story or opinion in the comments. Will wait!

If he is a believer, then he is a blinkered conservative. If with a higher education and a decent profession, then a reasonable person who is worth listening to. If the artist is obviously a loafer and a drunkard. If a mother of many children, then a beggar. If a vegetarian – how to drink, sectarian.

As soon as we get at least a little information about a person, we immediately draw conclusions – most often more than superficial. We attach a piece of paper with a verdict to this person and mentally put it on a shelf according to the received article.

We understand why people do this, where it can lead and how to abandon templates.

Why do we judge people by their cover?

It’s part of human nature

The division of people, things and phenomena into categories is natural and, as consider scientists, an automatic process that we begin to master in childhood. It’s called: categorization. This property of human thinking helps us navigate a complex, confusing and unpredictable world, makes it a little more understandable, saves time and effort.

If you see a mushroom with spots, it means that it is poisonous, do not eat it. If you see a migrant from some southern republic, it means that he is an uneducated savage, bypass him on the tenth road and grumble that they have “come in large numbers”. The label implies that we do not need to think for a long time, build complex logical chains, doubt, look for solutions, try to get to know a person and evaluate him objectively.

Anastasia Bakhtina

Psychologist, candidate of psychological sciences, researcher and lecturer at the Higher School of Economics, author of scientific articles and a textbook on psychology, founder of the InMind EdTech project.

Stereotyping allows the brain to make quick decisions based on patterns, labels, and past experiences. When we see a woman with blond hair, the conclusion about her intellectual abilities suggests itself on the basis of a stereotype. At the same time, the brain does not want to figure out that a stranger may have a degree, and find out other subtleties. This approach significantly narrows our horizons and ability to communicate.

This is a cognitive error

For example, a distortion in favor of our group, because of which we divide people into friends and foes, and our people seem to us smarter, more beautiful and generally better. There may also be an illusion of the homogeneity of our group – when we believe that everyone who is on the same wavelength with us is arranged in approximately the same way.

If I am a conservative, then the rest of the conservatives are reasonable people who say the right things. And the liberals are just clowns who want to ruin the country. If I am a careerist, it means that working women are responsible, strong, slim and literate, and housewives with children are stupid fat kluckers.

This influence of the majority

Scientists have studied and figured out curious thing. If it seems to us that others do not treat a person very well, we also begin to think negatively about him and unconsciously avoid him. And it’s not just a matter of rumors or an unspoken negative opinion. Sometimes just sidelong glances, lowered corners of the lips and other elements of facial expressions that signal disapproval are enough – and that’s it: it already seems to us that something is wrong with a person, we put a stigma on him as an enemy and treat him worse.

This is the result of upbringing.

If it is customary in a family to clearly divide people into groups, attribute stereotypical qualities to them and build relationships with them based on a certain label, then the child is likely to learn this habit. And in adulthood, he will act the same way and consider it something natural.

What labels lead to

We support stereotypes

And some of them are far from harmless. The most striking and classic example is racial prejudice. For hundreds of years white people have loved reason that representatives of other races, in particular people of African descent, are somehow not like that. Say, more stupid than the Europeans.

Or take gender stereotypes. Many still believe that women are inferior to men in intelligence, professionalism, determination – and therefore can notsuch as being president.

This is the tip of the iceberg: there are so many lesser known stereotypes that plague people’s lives. Fat means lazy. He dyed his hair and pierced his ear – that means he’s gay. And if gay, then marginal and generally a bad person. Lives in the village – uneducated. He dresses in a second-hand store – he earns little, which means he is stupid and lacking initiative. And so on and so forth. Their name is legion.

Such judgments make it harder for people to find work, they are forced to endure ridicule, harassment and even violence.

We are at enmity

About 30% peoples surveyed considerthat people of other ethnic origin should not be allowed into the country at all. That is, not at all, even as tourists they do not want to see them.

Dozens of military conflicts are still blazing in the world, based on interracial or interethnic hostility. Even in a completely civilized country, a person can be beaten or maimed for the way he looks and whom he loves. And how many copies are broken on the Internet just because the opponent belongs to a different camp, which means that he is a priori full of vices and deserves rudeness and insults!

Social categorization and stereotyping has always been the root from which mutual hatred grows. People not only treat strangers worse – they often dehumanize those who are not like them. That is, they treat someone who is different, not as a person, and admit that they need to be treated accordingly.

We run the risk of being wrong

Not hiring a person just because of their skin color, gender, age, or political views – and missing out on a great employee and a valuable specialist. Refuse to communicate with someone because of his hobby, which you consider a silly hobby – and lose a good friend. Well, in general, by making premature conclusions, we lose the opportunity to get to know someone better, to learn something new, to acquire interesting connections.

How to stop judging superficially

Learning to be thoughtful, calm, and open-minded about people—not jumping to conclusions, trying to get to know the interlocutor better and assessing them more comprehensively—can be difficult and unusual. But this will definitely open the way to interesting acquaintances and important discoveries. To make it easier to abandon prejudices, take note of a few recommendations from a psychologist.

Anastasia Bakhtina

Psychologist, candidate of psychological sciences.

Now in society, soft skills are beginning to be more valued. Gone are the days when people were judged solely on their professional qualities or social status. Now you still need to “be human”: attentive, open-minded, able to listen and give advice, empathize and much more. That is why you can come to greater success if you abandon templates.

Patterns most often arise in our head unconsciously. We must strive to notice the moments of laziness of the brain and superficial thinking. At first, just keep track, then switch yourself to analytical and rational perception, force yourself to think. This ability and skill of changing the thinking strategy will be useful in developing awareness. Don’t jump to conclusions, let people surprise you, give yourself the opportunity to find good things and learn something interesting without resorting to stereotypes, and you will see that the quality of interaction with others and the world as a whole will improve markedly.

Have you had cases when the first stereotyped impression of a person turned out to be erroneous? Tell your stories in the comments!