How and Why We Stereotype People and Things
Stereotyping is not considered a good thing, certainly not in politically correct circles. However, our ability to do it is hard-wired into our brains, and it doesn’t only apply to people. We can stereotype an organization, too.
Let’s say you need to name a type of business that is frustrating across the board. My first thought is internet service providers, aka, the cable company. No matter which carrier you have, you probably have a beef with your service (or lack thereof) or with at least some part of your Customer Experience.
However, stereotypes work the other way, too. If you were to name a business where the representatives were universally excellent, you could do that, also, like a spa. Another example could be candy stores that hand out free samples.
This episode of The Intuitive Customer explores how and why we create these stereotypes and what purpose they serve in making decisions. We also take a close look at what happens in an experience that can put you into a stereotyped group—and what to do about it if that stereotype is hurting your bottom line.
Stereotypes are the product of a shortcut in thinking, or heuristic, called Representativeness. The Representative Heuristic is how our brains look for ways to group separate entities and associate them with characteristics so we can make quick and straightforward decisions.
For example, when I ask you on a scale from one to ten of how likely it is that I am a male model, what is the first thing you do? You probably think of how male models look and then compare that mental image to my profile pic to determine what number you would give me. The “male model” entity you compare me to is an example of Representativeness.
(For the record, I don’t need to know what number you gave me. It was only a way to demonstrate the process for the heuristic.)
Now, heuristics work pretty well most of the time, which is why we use them. However, heuristics are not foolproof. It is here where heuristics fail that decision scientists focus their interest. Usually, the Representative Heuristic fails when you reach the extremes, and you forget about how probability works.
Listen to the podcast in its entirety to learn more about How and Why We Stereotype People and Things for your Customer Experience.
The Intuitive Customer podcasts are designed to explain the psychological concepts behind customer behavior.
If you would like to find out from one of our CX consultants how you can implement the concepts we discussed in your organization’s marketing to improve customer loyalty and retention, contact us at www.beyondphilosophy.com.
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