Stereotypes are very important for human beings. In early human history, these played a major role in securing human life. In the 20th century, people all around the world were manipulated by their stereotypes in order to give a certain action. The worst consequence of this misuse of stereotypes is the stigmatization and subsequent genocide of the Jewish population of the Third Reich. In order to prevent such a catastrophe, todays zeitgeist and politics are trying to remove stereotypes from people’s lives and actions through political correctness. Nevertheless, stereotypes still exist. Particularly when dealing with different countries and cultures, conflicts can arise, which can also discharge in future business life. As globalization progresses, the world continues to grow, while boundaries are pushed and different cultures mix. However, stereotypes do not only take place in an intercultural context. For example, people can also be stereotyped, due to their weight, age, gender or religion. The consequences of such stereotyping can be, for example, exclusion and discrimination.
Although many people of the predominantly Western civilization dare to say, that they are free of stereotypes and prejudices, but nonetheless they still do exist. Through this work and the previous game that took place in the class, we will show where stereotypes are based, that they persist in people’s minds, and as well show ways how stereotypes can be broken up and dismantled. Since we are in the field of intercultural management, our work focuses on stereotypes that can emerge in an intercultural context.
2. Theoretical background
In order to show what a stereotype is, it is necessary to redefine what an attitude is. An attitude can be defined as an enduring assessment of people, objects or ideas consisting of an affective component, a cognitive component and a behavioral component. Even though a mindset consists of these three components, it always has a cognitive, affective or behavioral basis. The cognitive basis is based on the assumptions about the properties of an object. An example of this is the balance between advantages and disadvantages. Thus, cognitive processes are the foundation of this attitude. (Stahlberg 1990) The situation is different in the affective basis. Unlike the cognitive basis, it is based on values ??and feelings. For example Studies have shown, that topics such as politics and religion are often based on affective attitudes. The affective-based attitudes thus have the function that they express the value system of a person and confirm the human being in its worldview. However, affective attitudes can also result from a sensory reaction such as a sexual stimulus. (Stahlberg 1990) Also know as ,,sex sells” in advertising and marketing.
Another basis is the behavioral one. It is based on the observations of how a person behaves towards an attitude or object. Thus, a seen behavior leads to an attitude. However, these can only occur if the setting against an object is initially ambiguous or weak. (Stahlberg 1990) To illustrate these three components, there is the following example: The affective component of a Coca Cola can, would be: I drink Coca Cola because it tastes good to me. The cognitive components could be: I do not drink Coca Cola because it contains too much sugar and is therefore unhealthy. The behavioral component could be this: I drink the Coca Cola since it was given to me as a present.
2.2 Yale Attitude Change Approach
Attitudes can also be changed. If they are changed, then often through social influence. One technique for changing attitudes is the technique of persuasive communication. This includes any form of communication that should convince people of a particular opinion on a topic. This can be, for example, speeches or commercials. Whether this succeeds or not depends on many different factors. These include, among others, the characteristics of the message creator, the attributes of the addressee, the content and many more. Yale’s Yale Attitude Change Approach of the 1950s describes the extent to which persuasive communication can change people’s attitudes. During that research, it has been found that a distracted audience is easier to be persuaded than a non-distracted, less intelligent persons are easier-to-influence than smarter ones, that it is easier to influence people with a sense of self-worth than people with low or high self-esteem and that people who are 18-25 years old are the most susceptible to attitude change as they are still in the process of identity formation. Also regarding the characteristics of the sender of a message they have come to great findings of the researchers. They found out that people do believe more to people with obvious skills rather than unbelievable, as well as the speaker because of their outward appearance or personal qualities seem to be more attractive and convincing than unattractive. Another result is the described effect of terrifying messages, which can lead to a permanent attitude change. These can arouse fear and at the same time provide instructions on how to avoid the negative consequences. One example is health campaigns that aim to help smokers quit smoking. Too much fear, however, can lead to defensive stance and denial of the threat.
A stereotype is a generalized assumption about a group of people who ascribes certain qualities to virtually all their members, regardless of actual differences between them. But why are they still omnipresent? Stereotypes fulfill the important function in our lives, as they facilitate a classification of people in our everyday lives. Every day many external influences affect man. Humans lack the ability to process all information in order to acquire a differentiated attitude. However, because humans lack the ability to process all information to form a differentiated attitude, stereotypes help to process new impressions very quick. These help a person in surprising events where it is important to make quick decisions. From a psychological point of view, stereotypes make experience and behavior less complicated and faster at the expense of accuracy and appropriateness. (Bar-Valley p.10ff)
Origins of stereotypes
In theory, there are four approaches to explain the formation of stereotypes:
2.4 Social kognition
People naturally have a tendency to categorize and organize information. On this basis, schemas are created that allow us to interpret new or unusual information. In the social context, people form categories based on an association of people with groups based on certain characteristics. As a result, social cognition occurs, in our way of processing and classifying social information. (Stephan 1989: 57 pp.)
A typical concept of our social thinking is the so-called favoritism of the own group. It means having positive feelings, ratings, and behaviors towards people who, by definition, belong to the own in-group. Other people who, by definition, belong to an outgroup, are given negative feelings, ratings, and unfair treatment. The most important motive for the self-group preference is the need of humans for a positive self-image. (Campbell 1965: 288 pp.)
2.5 Normative rules
Norms are the ideas in society of what is right, acceptable and allowed – these vary greatly from culture to culture and from epoch to epoch. Adapting to existing norms (conformity) allows us to obtain information and to be accepted, therefore, social norms exert a strong influence on us. (Elliot 2004: 513 p.) Prejudices and stereotypes can also be normative – in this case one speaks of institutional utuinalized prejudices and stereotypes. Unsupported prejudices prevail when it is socially unacceptable not to discriminate against a privileged group.
The tendency to adapt to the group in order to fulfill their expectations and to be accepted is called normative conformity. (Gabler) To oppose normative social influence can be ridiculed, outlawed, and even excluded by the group.
2.6 Foreign group homogeneity
Another concept of our social thinking is perceived heterosexuality. It describes the perception that individuals of the outgroup are more similar (more homogeneous) than is actually the case. Put simply, it is the belief that “the others” are all the same. In contrast, members of the in-group are considered more heterogeneous and are perceived more diverse. This means (incorrectly) being able to better predict the behavior of outgroup members. (Elliot 2004: 432p.)
The theory of realistic group conflict states that limited resources lead to conflict between groups as well as to increased prejudice and increased discrimination. Studies show an increase in stereotypes and xenophobia with rising unemployment (for example, against guest workers). (van Dick 2007: 18pp.) If you are frustrated or unhappy (for example, because of the economical situation in your country or your household), but there is no logical rival, you look for one.
The aggression is then v. A. directed against groups that are unpopular, easily identifiable and relatively powerless. This process is called a scapegoat mechanism. (Burton 2013)
2.8 Distortion of attributes
Due to the fundamental attribution error, we tend to attribute the causes of a person’s behavior to internal reasons other than one’s own. In doing so, situational influences on behavior are ignored. (Psychology48)
Within our lecture, we conducted a personalization game with our subjects under the name “Cultural personification – a nation becomes a human”. The template for this game comes from the “book of games” by Alexander Schimanksy an external economics psychology professor of the SRH Hochschule Berlin. It is used in the areas of marketing and corporate psychology and is used to characterize and differentiate potentially similar brands. This method is used in contrast to questionnaires to get a qualitatively strong image of a brand. Instead of a questionnaire, in which items are already given, respondents have the opportunity to put all the important things related to the brand into a picture, true to the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. To use it for the purpose of intercultural management, we have transformed it. Because the image of a brand and the image of a nation are based on the same principle. This is done by means of the purpose of dissolving the participants of our course, which come from different countries and are culturally very open-minded, the stereotypes still exist. Thus, it is possible to personalize a nation.
The gameplay was as follows. At the beginning, the participants were divided into three predefined groups. It is ensured that the participants were divided as equally as possible. In terms of the origin of the participants, we tried to make the groups as heterogeneous as possible.
Then we asked the participants to join their respective groups. Subsequently, the groups were then shown an information light with the associated work order. We asked to personalize and paint Group 1 – Spain, Group 2 – Russia and Group 3 – Germany. We chose these countries because Spain, Germany and Russia all belong to Europe. Spain and Germany are more pronounced than Russia, which is European on the one side and Asian on the other side in the east. All countries share a common history on the European continent. The participants had a time frame of 10 minutes for the processing of their order. The only basic requirements of our side were how the person to be personified looks, what age she has, what gender, what job she has and what passion and what habits he or she follows as well as his behavior towards strangers.
We pointed out that they do not have to fear political correctness. The last point was very important in this regard to represent a high-quality image of the respective nation. After completing the pictures, we asked one participant of the three groups to show the picture to the rest of the class, describe it, and explain why they chose the sketch. As mentioned before, this was to show participants that apparently similar nations make such different images, and that nations have been typified in part by their well-known stereotypes, but more information will follow in the description of the game.
We pointed out that the participants did not have to fear political correctness. The last point was very important in this regard to represent a high-quality image of the respective nation. After completing the pictures, we asked one of the three groups to show the picture to the rest of the class, describe it, and explain why they chose the sketch. As mentioned before, this was to show participants that apparently similar nations make such different images, and that nations have been typified in part by their well-known stereotypes, but more on that in the description.
4. Description ,,Cultural personification – A nation becomes a human”
For simplicity, the following group results will be described one after the other. The photographs of the group results can be found in the appendix.
Figure 1 shows the group result of the first group with the corresponding country Spain. This is located in the appendix. At first glance, a man, a bull and some written characteristics can be seen. Spain is thus represented as a man. The man is on the left in the picture. The bull to his right and the description on the right. The man wears a big sombrero hat, plays guitar, has a big mustache and bushy eyebrows. He plays on the guitar from which sounds in the form of notes sound. Next to him is a bottle marked Cervezza, Spanish for beer. Descriptive features included: men, 35-40, married, musician (flamenco), corrida (flamenco), eat & paella, friendly. At the bottom there is a wave (interpretation) which is supposed to represent earth or water.
Figure 2 shows the group result of the second group with the corresponding country of Russia. It is located in the appendix. In the middle of the picture you can see a man. At the top left of the picture is a lock pictured. Right a ship. Below is a description of properties. Russia is portrayed as a man. The man is corpulent, has a beard, is wearing a sweater with the inscription: “Putin rules,” holding in his right hand a bottle of vodka, in the left a Bible of the Russian Orthodox Church, wearing a belt with a “H ” (probably the brand Hermes) and huge winter boots. From the top of the sweater sprouts a lush chest hair. On his head he is wreaking a typical Russian Ushanka hat. His eyes are closed. In the lower description it says in written form: 45, job: millionaire, passion: drink vodka, habits: drink vodka, gevard: drink vodka all over the world.
Figure 3 shows the group result of the third group with the associated country Germany. This is located in the appendix. You can see a man in the upper half of the picture. In the lower half are in written form characteristics of the person. The man has a balding bald head and looks evil (eyebrows drawn down as well as the corners of his mouth are running down). He wears a sweater, pants, suspenders and socks with pattern. In his right hand he holds a cigar or cigarette in his left a glass with the inscription “Pilsener”. The written features are: retired, passive aggressive, strict, grumpy, egocentric, dog person, short sentences, no english, NO !!!, takes the bus.
In this part we will interpret the three pictures after the previous description. All three personifications show that the nations have been male. This may even be related to Hofstede’s masculinity. Thus, there is an opinion among the participants that all countries are male dominated.
Spain is perceived as a musical and passionate country. This shows in flamenco dance as well as on the guitar. The sombrero may be an allusion to the usual siesta in Spain. This daily break for several hours is often used as a reason for the rotten Spanish work ethic. With the bull one can assume that every Spaniard participates in the bloody spectacle of bullfighting and also supports it. Likewise, the image in the mind of the participants, all Spaniards bear a beard and like to put this on display. The description that the typical Spanish person is married might be in favor of the fact that Spain is a strictly Catholic country. The Spaniard likes to be among people and likes to socialize with others. This could be in the image of a Botellón, an expression for an in Spain often held street festival, the practice of young adults meeting in public places and sharing alcohol consumption. The reference to the sea and the paella, a typical dish with shells could be subjected to the stereotype that all Spaniards live by the sea since yes Spain is indeed on the Iberian peninsula. The mixture of socialization, the Botellón as well as the musical vein flows into the last characteristic designation which the typical Spaniard is to classify as friendly. There was no indication of the profession compared to the other groups and could therefore be an indication of the high level of youth unemployment in Spain.
Russia is portrayed as a stout big and strong man. His hairy appearance could be compared to a bear. The Russian bear as a national symbol. The castle can be considered as a reference to the historical feudal position of Russia under the rule of the Tsars. As well as the ship, which will be on the naval tradition and the October Revolution. This was the violent seizure of power by the Communist Bolsheviks in 1917 and the subsequent Kronstadt sailors’ uprising in 1921 against them. It still has a large share of the Russian identity as such. The typical Ushanka and the associated boots allude to the stereotype that it is always cold in Russia, even though the country has very hot summers as the rest of Europe. The stereotype that every Russian loves Vodka is not too short either. The group painted a bottle of vodka in one hand and said that his vodka was his passion and behavior. The Russian Orthodox Bible in the left hand allows for the stereotype that every Russian strictly believes in the Russian Orthodox Church, which to this day exercises a great influence in the country. The inscription on the sweater: “Putin rules” gives the opinion that every Russian is a big fan of President Vladimir Putin. He has a tremendous support in the country as he is a Russian hero after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the downfall of the USSR staged. The profession of Russian as a millionaire and the associated expensive Hermes belt suggest the stereotype of the super-rich oligarchs who cultivate a decadent lifestyle all over the world.
As far as Germany is concerned, all participants have been living in Germany and Berlin for some time. This also has a direct influence on the image of Germans. The picture of the German grandfather retired is an indication of the demographic change in Germany after the population ages more and more. The beer in his left hand is an allusion to a German stereotype that makes all Germans drink beer and therefore is one of the great beer-drinking nations in the world. The image of the grumpy, passively aggressive, which says NO and does not want to speak “no english” may be the direct comparison to the Berliner Schnauze debt. A harsh way of the German language located in Berlin. The characteristic of the strict German may have sprung from the stereotype of the German bureaucrat and the absolute obedience of Prussian virtues known by the war. That the dog is the favorite animal of the German may result from the fact that the participants see many dogs in German streets. The fact that the Germans like to take the bus may also be related to the fact that public transport companies in Berlin are used much more frequently than in the countryside. This also surprised us, as we thought that Germany would be regarded as a car driver nation.
The biased views of a person resulting from comfort and their own ignorance are difficult to convince with logical arguments. The human is a so-called creature of habits. It is difficult for him to separate from his usual ways of thinking.
You just have to confront people with the truth and the problem of your own misjudgment would resolve itself. This seems to be a logical approach. (Eisenberg 2017)
As conclusive as this approach may sound, the reality, of course, looks different.
To counter this, various methods have been developed to facilitate the elimination of prejudices.