What is in a label? Should we change the way we use them?
We humans are experts at classifying things. We can sort and find patterns even when they are subtle, and sometimes we even invent patterns where there are none.
Many experiments have highlighted our strong drive to clearly define the groups we belong (or don't belong) to, and this definition has a very tangible effect on our behavior towards others.
Naturally, when we meet someone, our first hand experience is very limited, and this causes an uncertainty and ambiguity that feels uncomfortable. Labels are shortcuts we use when we don't have enough time to learn more about a particular individual, yet we need to reduce this ambiguity and uncertainty to a tolerable level.
Yet it appears as if once we attach a label to somebody, it is very hard to "un-label" them. So, in a sense, we "paint" them with characteristics that they may or may not have in reality, and this paint is very "sticky".
What is the purpose of these labels? are we using them for that purpose or are we over-using them? And if we are, is there a way to use labels differently to reduces the risk of over-using them?