Stereotypes Are Often Harmful, and Accurate

…First, stereotypes are not bugs in our cultural software but features of our biological hardware. This is because the ability to stereotype is often essential for efficient decision-making, which facilitates survival. As Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has noted, “you don’t ask a toddler for directions, you don’t ask a very old person to help you move a sofa, and that’s because you stereotype.”

Our evolutionary ancestors were often called to act fast, on partial information from a small sample, in novel or risky situations. Under those conditions, the ability to form a better-than-chance prediction is an advantage.