Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
An ethnic stereotype may be either (A) an overly-simplified representation of the typical characteristics of members of an ethnic group, or (B) a falsehood that has been repeated so many times that is accepted by many people as generally true. The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
Some stereotypes, based on unbiased observations of actual behavior, can be accurate and useful:
- Asians often bow when meeting others.
- Some ethnic groups have a different conception of "personal space" from Westerners. (Latinos and peoples from the Middle East exhibit a similar lack of conscientiousness of the notion of 'personal space'). They often move in close and speak nearly in someone's face. This is often considered offensive among Westerners, but in some countries it actually denotes conversational intimacy and respect.
- Swiss Germans are punctilious, particularly about time. It is considered an insult to be even a few minutes late for an appointment.
Ethnic stereotypes are often describe as either positive or negative. Negatives stereotypes present inaccurate negative generalization of a group and thus are usually viewed as offensive. There are many examples, lists of these can be found at the following articles:
Positive stereotypes describe inaccurate positive generalizations of a group. They may also be viewed as offensive as they may be viewed as putting an unfair burden or expectation on the members of the group in question, especially those who do not fit the stereotype.
Examples of positive stereotypes:
- All Asian people are intelligent (Model minority).
- All Arabs are good cooks.
- All blacks are good at singing or sports, especially basketball and football.
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