Cultural and social misunderstanding, how stereotypes have there way, pt 1

Posted by in Communication, Derivations

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Stereotypes are created by our need to lump information together to assist in our understanding and sense making of the world and the people around us. Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Ivy, D. K. (2010) posit that the manner in which we perceive those around us has a direct impact on the way that we communicate with them and vise-versa. The communication between us changes based on those perceptions, the language we use, the topics, the manner of speaking and the way that we adapt to the new interactions.

A stereotype is a generality applied to people perceived to have characteristics shared to a particular group. Stereotypes work in both directions occurring simultaneously, a projected cognitive similarity and out-group homogeneity effect.

A projected cognitive similarity is presented by P.W. (2010) citing Varner & Beary (2005) is when “you know someone else’s perceptions, judgments, attitudes, and values because you assume they are like your own.” While out-group homogeneity effect is the inclination for people to see members of an out-group as less diverse and more stereotypic than the members of that group see themselves. In both instances we see stereotypes forming and being used to both assess and process information.

The cognitive process that is stereotyping is an essential part of our sense-making progression, the generalizations assist in our chunking of information and group attributes so that we are able to process complex knowledge in fragments that are broader and are simpler to recall. Hall (2005) elaborates, as humans we have a need to categorize everything in order to deal with the world that surrounds us (p. 221). Stereotypes have developed a negative connotation but they are not by definition bad. A stereotype serves a purpose for persons to be able to understand general ideas, concepts and then be able to learn from them.

The downside of stereotypes is exposed when the generalized memory packets are used to create negative frames or negative stereotypes about particular groups. Hall indicates that stereotypes, “Are a natural part of the social world,” but how we use them in our interaction is what leads to people being treated poorly or unfairly. Our ethnocentric mentality keeps us from removing the “we are right” perspective and bolsters our prejudicial actions.