This is the Answer Key – Stereotypes Gap-fill exercise
Do you rely on stereotypes? Most people would tell you that they never stereotype others, but that begs the question of where those stereotypes come from and how they continue to be propagated. Perhaps people stereotype others unconsciously, often believing that there is some historical or cultural truth to stereotypes.
There are dangers to this unconscious stereotyping of course. You might come across as patronising if your attempts at sympathy are too uninformed or clumsy. Furthermore, the stereotype you construct may only serve to mislead you and prevent you from benefiting from the communication as much as you might otherwise have done.
Let’s look at some concrete examples. Many countries make jokes about a particular group or nationality being stupid. The Brits make jokes about the Irish. The Poles make jokes about the police. The Canadians make jokes of Newfoundlanders. The French make jokes about the Belgians . . . and so it goes on. Below is an example of a German joke.
What’s the difference between Heaven and Hell?
In Heaven, the Brits are the comedians, the Germans are the engineers and the French are the lovers. In Hell, the Germans are the humorists, the French are the engineers and the Brits are the lovers.
And other character traits are identified in this humour of prejudice and stereotype. The Irish make jokes about the Scots being tight-fisted. People in Spain make jokes about the Catalans being scroungers . . . and so that goes on. I’m sure you know other examples that I don’t need to repeat here.
That accounts for some of the more negative trends in stereotyping, but there are some that are more ambiguous, even positive some would say. Do you think Brits are reserved, inhibited or distant? Do you consider that a negative trait? I know many Brits who are proud of just such a trait. However, perhaps Brazilians would consider such a trait negative. Are the Brits funnier than other cultures? The Brits certainly have a strong tradition in comedy. Is it possible to be funny and outgoing but still reserved? Are Poles romantic or literary? More so than other cultures? Are the French the most romantic? Are men really better drivers than women? Are women really more sensitive than men?
When you really look at it, stereotypes can seem more inaccurate and confusing than useful. They are certainly more limiting than freeing. They can even be dangerous and cause their own problems. So why do we use them? Can’t we overcome our instincts? Can’t we think with our heads instead of our hearts? How would aliens stereotype human kind?
Why do we continue using stereotypes?