by: Kristen Allodi, Ed Gries, Carissa Mumy, and Don Shea

            How many times have you seen a blonde - haired person make a ridiculous statement and then afterwards you comment to your friend,"Oh, they're blonde.  No wonder!".  This is a classic example of a stereotype (All blondes are dumb.).  A stereotype is defined as being " the collection of beliefs held about the personal traits and behaviors of individuals belonging to a particular group."(Nairne, 1997).

            Stereotypes influence society more than is realized.  Common streotypes that are often made refer to gender, age, and ethnic background.   How are these stereotypes formed in the first place?  Is it the media and large corporations who are influencing our world?  Some organizations and members of society would like to think so and are determined to have their ideas heard.

            One corporation who has fallen prey to many of these attacks is the Walt Disney Corporation.  When the name Walt Disney is mentioned the word "animation" comes foremost to many people's minds; however, this company has made many more endeavors than animated pictures.  Due to financial difficulty in the 1950's, the Disney Corporation began to branch out into film and television (non - animated).  The Disney Corporation grew to greater heights with the opening of their theme parks, which can now be visited in Asia and Europe, as well as, two locations in North America. Of course, Disney also has its character and logo merchandising.  There are Disney stores located in several shopping malls throughout the United States and other countries.  When a set of mouse ears are seen , a person immediately associates that with the Disney Corporation.  However, there are those individuals who believe Disney may have too great an influence on society.

            Some individuals and organizations are opposed to the rate at which the Disney Corporation is growing and the effects it is having on the world.  A few of these people include members of the Southern Baptist Church, the American Life League (ALL), and the American - Arab Anti - Discrimination Committee.  Obviously with this diversity among the groups in opposition there is also a wide - range of issues these groups oppose.  These issues range from the stereotyping of many ethnic backgrounds to there being a "Gay and Lesbian Day" at the Walt Disney Theme Park in Orlando. Florida.  Possibly the best way to summarize these attacks being waged against the Disney Corporation was stated by Kathy Merlock Jackson in the Journal of Popular Film & Television (24:2, 1996), "While the studio has excelled technologically and commercially, its ideology has been attacked for failing to change with the times."

            Are these organizations correct in accusing the Disney Corporation of bad policy or has this children's icon given these individuals just - cause to make these assumptions?  It is up to you to decide.  Click on any of the following areas of interest in the table and find a more in depth look at the issues surrounding this debate.  Explore some of the pro and anti - Disney sites that have been linked to these pages.  Participate in some of the interactive questionnaires that are linked as well and then tell us what your beliefs are.

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This tutorial was produced for Psy 324, Advanced Social Psychology, Spring 1999 at Miami University.  All graphics are from the public domain, used with permission or under fair use guidelines, or were created by the authors.  Social Psychology / Miami University (Ohio USA).  Last revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 22:58:20. This document has been accessed 1 times since April 15, 2002. Comments & Questions to R. Sherman