Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

The Surreptitious Influence of Spiteful Stereotypes

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

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Why are these borders so weird?

New book focuses on some of the world's most peculiar borderlines.

The bizarre international border at Märket Island is just one of dozens highlighted in Zoran Nikolic's 'Atlas of Unusual Borders'.

Image reproduced by kind permission of HarperCollins
Strange Maps
  • Borders have a simple job: separate different areas from each other.
  • But they can get complicated fast, as shown by a new book.
  • Here are a few of the bizarre borders it focuses on.
Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

Keep reading Show less
Videos

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast