Is there terminology for how a group is viewed by outsiders, as only radical members are the most visible?

I believe such a term would exist within social sciences.


I believe the word you're looking for is stereotype. Stereotypes may be treated as a representation of the "typical" group member, but in reality they are most often a characterization of the stand-out traits of "highly visible" members. These members might be known as extremists, depending on the type of group (e.g., religious extremists). They also might be known as geeks (e.g., science geeks).

  • Let us say that you are a moderate member of a group, what word or phrase would you use to describe the more vocal members? The ones outsiders perceive as the group.
    – Sarabjot
    May 9 '11 at 23:15
  • @Sarabjot I updated my answer. May 9 '11 at 23:23
  • Geek usually has a much more harmless connotation than extremist. Kind of odd to see them used together like that, but I suppose that in a technical sense, it can be correct. Geeks are usually people who obsess over something to the point that they amass large amounts of knowledge about it. If you say something even marginally incorrect, a geek might say something like "Well, actually, in 976, <insert some obscure historical figure's name here> said blah blah blah, which means you're wrong" while an extremist might shoot you in the head while ignoring any evidence you have to the contary.
    – Phoenix
    May 10 '11 at 0:29
  • That's probably the biggest difference between a geek and an extremist in this context. A geek loves any information they can get their hands on so long as they can verify it as fact, even if it goes against what they already know. They'll hate to be wrong, sure, but they'll willfully integrate it into their body of knowledge in order to not be wrong about it anymore. An extremist will ignore any information which goes against what they believe to be true, regardless of the source or how well documented the information is, and will often react violently to it, either verbally or physically.
    – Phoenix
    May 10 '11 at 0:36
  • @Phoenix The same thought went through my head. The common trait I focused on was how they stand out. You generally think of computer scientists as geeks, rather than as regular people who like science; and you think of the religious as extremists, rather than regular people who have a religion. Or some people do, anyways. May 10 '11 at 0:41

Sociologists use the term "outgroup" (also "out-group") to collectively specify one group of outsiders relative to another group (or relative to society at large). That word itself can be a good launching point for many adjectives: outgroup perceptions; outgroup membership; outgroup initiation rites, etc.

For your application, you might consider "outgroup perceptions". E.g., "Outgroup perceptions of blue-collar males include assumptions that they enjoy/resemble/..."

...but if you are focusing on "outgroup perceptions" based on extrapolations from radical group members, "stereotype" is the best option.


try cognitive bias

A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable facts.

Here's a list of cognitive biases

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