April 15, 2015
On the day of the Palmer Research Symposium, I chose to attend a presentation by Maggie Johnson entitled “Stereotype Activation and Application”. As the title suggests, the majority of her speech was about stereotypes, and specifically about how they can be used both negatively and positively in our lives.
Maggie started out her speech by giving a variety of examples of stereotypes, and then explained what a stereotype was. I felt that this was an effective strategy, especially since her speech was one focused primarily in the science of psychology. By establishing exactly what a stereotype was and also providing several helpful examples from the start, she laid a strong foundation for the rest of her presentation. Maggie then went on to explain her 3 main points, which I believe were that we can control the amount of activation of stereotypes that occurs in our lives, we can try to eliminate or at least end popular use of negative stereotypes, and that stereotypes can sometimes be helpful. I really appreciate the fact that Maggie provided examples, anecdotes, and of course research for each of her main points. It helped me better understand what she was talking about, especially since I am far from being a psychology major. I also liked the way that she set up her speech, seemingly starting at the most important claim and developing towards less but still important claims. Although this is not a conventional strategy, I liked that she used it because it showed me that it could still be effective in presentations. It also showed me that using this strategy can help guide listeners to the main points of the speech, since they are essentially given the most important point at the beginning.
Upon first glance, I didn’t really think that the presentation’s topic would have much connection to popular culture. After listening to her speech, however, I realized that stereotypes play a large role in our popular culture, even though we don’t always notice it. One example of this is the meme commonly referred to as “Asian Dad”. This meme essentially pokes fun at the idea that Asian children are smarter and also pushed harder academically by their parents than other ethnicities. This meme is spread throughout the internet, and likely has been so popular because of the fact that it is based on a stereotype that many people have heard of/recognize. Maggie’s speech taught me that although stereotypes are usually thought of negatively, they can sometimes have positive effects as well. More importantly, her presentation taught me that stereotypes are all around us, and especially present in pop culture through things like movies, music, and advertisements.