The Surreptitious Influence of Spiteful Stereotypes
Kathleen Kelley Reardon is Professor Emerita of Management at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
She earned her Ph.D. summa cum laude and with distinction at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after receiving her BA degree with honors from University of Connecticut at Storrs. Kathleen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board.
Her primary areas of scholarly interest have been leadership communication, persuasion, politics in the workplace, negotiation and interpersonal communication. Public Opinion Quarterly described her first book, Persuasion in Practice, as a landmark contribution to the field.
Kathleen has taught negotiation, leadership and politics in the MBA, Executive MBA, and International MBA. For 15 years, she served on the USC Preventive Medicine faculty, developing interventions aimed at changing health habits among high-risk populations. She also served as associate director with Warren Bennis of the USC Leadership Institute.
She has authored 10 books and numerous articles, including three for The Harvard Business Review. Her 2001 book The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle (Currency, Doubleday) became an Amazon.com nonfiction and business best seller. It was followed by The Skilled Negotiator (Jossey-Bass, 2004), It’s All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren’t Enough (Currency, Doubleday, 2005), Childhood Denied: Ending the Nightmare of Child Abuse and Neglect (Sage, 2008), and Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation (Harper Business, 2010).
Her first novel, Shadow Campus, is an inside look at the politics of academia, a mystery-thriller and a love story. Forbes described it as a “masterful debut.” The sequel is underway for publication in 2015.
Kathleen was awarded the 2013 Humanitarian Award by the University of Connecticut Alumni Association based on her contributions to underserved groups, especially in originating and working to develop college prep academies for foster teens (www.firststar.org).
Kathleen is a signature blogger at Huffington Post (since 2005) and also blogs at her website (www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com).
As I watched the televised World Cup Final surrounded by people from a variety of countries, the camera focused briefly on young fans, their faces painted in bright colors representing their nations, jumping and cheering.
From behind me someone criticized: “American teenage contagion of the world.”
The young people disparaged were Argentina fans. There was no sign of an American flag, nor any indication that America had anything to do with the youths, who were simply having a good time and harming no one. The remark was a cheap shot.
Every culture has patterns of behavior that can be observed, and considerable benefit derives from knowing how to behave when traveling.
There’s little to be gained by insisting that we’re all the same. We’re not. Yet, different need not mean better or worse.
Aside from the oversimplified images that stereotypes perpetuate, I wonder how much they contribute to the spread of disdain. It’s an important question in a world where hatreds based on racial, ethnic and cultural differences not only cause local disputes or wars but threaten global conflagration as well.
Stereotypes often take a clandestine growth path that is somewhat similar to cancer, progressing from a seemingly harmless kernel of bias that, if unaddressed, morphs into intractable xenophobia.
Each of us has the capacity to keep our stereotypes in check. It isn’t always easy – sometimes it can be quite difficult -- but it’s always possible. Stereotypes are no different than other patterns of thinking that we harbor and feed with questionable data.
Learning about other cultures, we observe things to admire and perhaps find fault with some aspects. We can learn about differences and prefer certain ways to others without slipping into lazy and often spiteful generalizations.
Faced with a derogatory stereotype, there’s always the option to ask of its source, “What’s your data for that?” or to suggest, “That sounds more like a stereotype than a useful cultural observation.”
Nipping stereotypes in the bud cautions others to keep their minds open while providing us with useful reminders as well. Otherwise, we’re at risk of simply perpetuating ignorance.
photo: Kasimira Nevenova/www.shutterstock.com
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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