Children’s’ expected occupational options are shaped by stereotypes based on gender, ethnicity, age, education and prior familial exposure role models. While children are developing a sense of what types of occupations are possible for them, they are concurrently developing a sense of what societal value is connected with each occupational role.
Together, these two concepts provide the framework for children to extrapolate possible future occupational scenarios complete with societal judgments, values, educational requirements and fiscal rewards associated with them. In this manner, children are able to forecast the value that society will place on their future social/occupational roles and offer justification for such assignment.
Children construct goals, assess the requirements to meet these goals, accept the level of attainment, and incorporate the level of self-esteem associated with the level of achievement into their self-concept while this formulation is ongoing throughout the individual’s life, it is in the most formative years that the acceptance of goals has the longest range of ramifications.
Once a stereotype, erroneous or not, has been accepted, a great number of strong intrapersonal and interpersonal reinforces are activated in an attempt to minimize cognitive dissonance. Research has shown that people often begin viewing events in a light that supports an adopted position even when the event is neutral. Other attribution theorists have shown that evidence supporting an individual’s position is more readily retrievable than disconfirming evidence.
This form of selective recall has been shown to extend beyond the processing of current information and can actually influence the way individuals recall and interpret events from their past so as to keep their personal histories in harmony with their current stereotyped belief. Another manner by which these stereotypes affect cognition and the future course of the individual’s life is through social and behavioural confirmation of erroneous stereotypes. Much of how individuals come to treat each other is in response to the treatment they have received from the other.