Stereotypes and Barriers to Critical Thinking
All groups of people have been assigned stereotypes throughout history. As indicated by Ushanov (2010), the society is bent on judging certain individuals during specific times based on perception rather than facts. Essentially, stereotypes prevent progress in critical thinking as they are derived from specific views point and not actuality (Paul & Elder, 2005). According to Ushanov (2010), believing that a stereotype is the only truth about a person or group of people disregards the likelihood of the targeted individuals being nothing other than the perceived. One of the most pronounced stereotypes that have influenced the U.S health system regards aging. Levy (2003) states that aging is a significantly individualized as well as multifaceted process contrary to popular belief. The contemporary society believes that older adults have poor cognitive and physical performance and their ability to recover from disease is diminished. The stereotypes of senior adults’ wellness habits have led to their unfair treatment society, particularly in the United States as well as the UK (Levy, 2003). In an era of increased information distribution and need for sustainable social structure, there is a need to dispel stereotypes.
Stereotypes about aging in contemporary culture are mainly negative. As indicated by Hummert (2011), individuals older than 50 years are depicted as being on the later stage of life, a time of increased ill health, continued loneliness, overdependence, and poor physical as well as mental functioning. These perceptions influence the efforts invested in addressing the needs of the elderly. For example, Haj (2017) posits that in the United States, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) allocates limited resources to the elderly due to certain stereotypes including the belief that the older one gets the less productive they become. Although there exists empirical data showing that both the physical and cognitive aptitudes decline with age, the aging process is not general. Just as individuals do not share the same life styles, there aging process will not be the same. For instance, an athlete may not show frailty as they grow older, but may have different health or mental issues from an individual who lived a much lesser active life in their youth. As indicated by El Haj (2017), there is a need for the relevant authorities to have facts about the aging process thus come up with an attractive healthcare package for these individuals. The generalization of the prevailing stereotypes about aging has no basis considering not all empirical studies on the matter highlight similar results. Therefore, consequences of aging vary from one individual to another; thus, the healthcare system in the United States should be revised to tackle health issues of all aging individuals.
Stereotypes are a barrier to critical thinking as they are neither true nor progressive. Most stereotypes are derived from a perceived notion that best suits a particular narrative that may be damaging. The mentioned stereotype about the elderly has greatly affected the healthcare system, leading to detrimental consequences. There is a need for the relevant healthcare executives to make informed decisions that can be used to make informed decisions regarding the elderly. Aging is a relative aspect and just because there are individuals who have mental conditions due to old age, all individuals above 50 years should not be perceived as having similar mental issues.
El Haj, M. (2017). Stereotypes influence destination memory in normal aging. Experimental Aging Research, 43(4), 355-366.
Hummert, M. L. (2011). Age stereotypes and aging. In Handbook of the Psychology of Aging (Seventh Edition) (pp. 249-262).
Levy, B. R. (2003). Mind matters: Cognitive and physical effects of aging self-stereotypes. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(4), P203-P211.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2005). Critical thinking competency standards. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Ushanov, P. V. (2010). Crisis management as a new management paradigm. Effective crisis management, 1, 66-79.