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Whenever you see, hear, or taste something, you can only tell so much about it based on what you sensed. This often isn't enough, so we make assumptions about what the rest of the thing is like -- when people hear "bird", they probably think of something that is fist-sized, flies, and sings, even though none of these things are true about every single bird. See prototype theory.

When a set of such assumptions about something become "common knowledge," they form a stereotype. Most of the time, nobody notices, as in the case of birds. This is very useful when you're writing fiction, because it lets you save a lot of space and time that you'd otherwise have to spend describing something in detail, when it isn't really important to your story.

Sometimes the assumptions that come with a stereotype cause people to behave strangely and callously towards one another; sometimes people resist changing their assumptions even when they are given very good reasons to do so. These are features of the Stereotypical Stereotype. This is the kind of stereotype that people talk about the most, which might be why it's stereotypical.

A Trope is a stereotype that writers find useful in communicating with readers. Some stereotypes that originally developed outside of fiction lend themselves readily to use as tropes, and some tropes turn into stereotypes outside of fiction. Some such tropes are:

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