Updated September 10, 2022

Stereotypes in Intercultural Communication

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Stereotypes in Intercultural Communication essay
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While we enter a global community, we often get exposed to basic relationships between peers with multicultural racial issues, religions, beliefs, and lifestyles that are routinely related to international communication. Individuals or groups of different cultural and natural backgrounds are expected to experience intercultural miscommunication By their characteristics and behaviors based on gender, age, social class, work, appearance, etc.

That may equally influence behavior and communication outcomes .

The key to effective communication is listening and accepting to the standpoints of the people you are having communication with but one prejudiced notions influence this, we automatically start pushing our expectation of how the individual must react based on our categorization of that particular individual this ranges from racial profiling to cultural profiling & even gender profiling.

This paper gives an overall definition about stereotypes prejudice, and cultural intelligence.

In intercultural research the influence of stereotypes we based our research here in our school between Chinese students and foreign students the aim of this research was to understand whether stereotype affect the communication between this two group with a huge cultural difference and whether the stereotypes they have of each other affected their communication in anyway. Later on we will discuss the results and how to go beyond stereotypes.

Stereotypes and Perception

We usually hear people say Chinese people are smart, or Africans are smart, or Americans are arrogant Those are stereotypes: commonly held ideas about specific groups. We are often familiar with negative stereotypes, but some are positive. For example, there’s a stereotype that all whit(European) people are successful. One of the problems with stereotypes is that even it could be true sometimes but mostly it’s not.

Our view is based on physiological factors, past occurrences, roles, culture and our current mindsets and situations, and therefore can be prone to errors.

We can make perceptual maybe based on inaccuracies or stereotypes for example. A common stereotype for Arabs is that they are lazy, uneducated, wealthy and showy. Even though we are all a unique personality, we are also members of cultural groups that our knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and values are based on. But when stereotypes don’t match the reality of a situation they can negatively impact our communications

Positive Stereotypes

“Asians are intelligent “or “Africans are great athletes”, “Canadians are very hospital and kind” etc.

Positive stereotypes do not seem so bad. But positive stereotypes generalize an entire group of people based on what we perceived they are to be.

positive stereotypes can lead to numerous negative results. Because your individuality is abridged into racial stereotypes, positive stereotypes can lead to feelings of depersonalization.

Negative Stereotypes

A stereotype widely believed about an individual or group which displays them in a poor light and is normally entirely far from the truth.

‘Stereotypes which not usually correct and are not true to what they are supposed to represent are known as negative stereotypes.

E.g. Asians are bad drivers, a black person is violent or Arabs are lazy

Negative stereotypes are harmful to people of color because assumptions, rather than personalized information, can justify the denial of educational, employment, housing and other opportunities

Negative influences of stereotypes

  •  It creates a misunderstanding of other groups or their members.
  • individuals could be looked at differently when there are various stereotypes to choose from.
  • It creates a feeling of prejudice
  • stereotyping is liable to trigger intergroup discrimination
  • leads to a failure in communication
  • play an important role in intensifying social distance

Impact of Stereotype in Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication plays a vital role in helping people with different cultural backgrounds share information, knowledge, thoughts and experiences. However, it faces a lot of obstacle in it being effective and one of the most common is stereotyping. stereotypes play a crucial role in manipulating the efficiency of intercultural communication because it shapes the way we distinguish and interact with members of different cultures”

Literature Review

The new study, published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, highlights how non-verbal ‘social cues’ — such as photographs of Chinese Canadians — can affect how we comprehend speech.

‘This research brings to light our internal biases, and the role of experience and stereotypes, in how we listen to and hear each other,’ says Molly Babel, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor with UBC’s Department of Linguistics.

One of the study’s tasks involved participants from the UBC community transcribing pre-recorded sentences amid background static. The sentences were recorded by 12 native speakers of Canadian English. Half of the speakers self-identified as White, and the other half self-identified as Chinese. All speakers were born and raised in Richmond, B.C., which is south of Vancouver.

The pre-recorded sentences were accompanied by either black and white photos of the speakers, or by an image of three crosses. Overall, listeners found the Chinese Canadians more difficult to understand than the White Canadians — but only when they were made aware that the speaker was Chinese Canadian due to the photo prompt.

Participants were also asked to rate the strength of the accents of the speakers. They were asked to listen to two sentences from each speaker — one accompanied by the speaker’s photo, the other by an image of crosses. ‘Once participants were aware that they were listening to a White Canadian, suddenly the candidate was perceived as having less of a foreign accent and sounding more like a native speaker of Canadian English,’ says Babel.

‘It tells us as listeners that we need to be sensitive about the stereotypes that we carry,’ notes Jamie Russell, the study’s co-author who was an undergraduate honors student in UBC’s Department of Linguistics during the project.

How can we go beyond stereotypes?

A stereotype is a statistical concept. As such, it does not predict anything about the individual samples. “black people are good athletes,” is statistically correct, and this statistical knowledge can be beneficial in certain situations but when you are dealing with individual black person, we must realize that it does not describe them. All we can know is the probability, but a probability of a characteristic is not itself a characteristic. Stereotype is a powerful tool that can be used positively or negatively.

This is why it is important that we do not focus on judging individual cases of stereotypes. Our focus should be on understanding how prejudice works. As difficult as it may be to put aside moral judgment in studying of stereotypes, if we can’t recognize our own prejudice, it would cloud our view in seeing what it is and how it works. Criticizing of prejudice in others is often our attempt at exorcising the same problem in ourselves. It is more effective to criticize ourselves and resolve our own problems than to fix those of others.

It is necessary that we advocate a feeling of understanding and appreciating other cultures and societies. So many people tend to judge other people’s actions and ways of life by their own cultural values. And we need to steer away from this ethnocentric view. When we think about other cultures , stereotypes and biases naturally creep in. we should be on guard to not perpetuate the beliefs that seem to come to mind..

A more effective method is to make sure you give the characters enough attributes to reveal them as individuals. These don’t have to be exposed through exposition, sometimes you can use the setting, or the character’s appearance, or who he or she hangs out with, to give clues.

It is a given that we perceive other cultures through projections based on our own culture: for the most part, we do not first see and then define; we define first and then see. People rely on their own personal perceptions and own cultural backpack to understand encounters. Nevertheless, we need to concentrate only on the individual and to approach every intercultural communication situation from ground zero.


The use of stereotypes is a daily necessity for some individuals, without the true realization of how damaging they are. What some do not realize is that stereotypes are no more than a bias way in which we simplify our social world. Stereotypes reduce the amount of cognitive thinking we generally use when meeting a new person. Thus creating scenarios where we are placing people into unnecessary categories

the use of stereotypes is alienating to individuals. The feeling of depersonalization is unfair for anyone. Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people. Stereotypes can be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or almost any characteristic. They may be positive and they can be negative. In either case, the stereotype is a generalization that doesn’t take individual differences into account.

Communication is intensely affected by culture. One can advance the ability to communicate efficiently crossways cultures by acknowledging cultural differences and overpowering their own ethnocentrism.

Being aware of cultural differences among their co-workers prepares employees to understand their behavior better and to face communication obstacles as well as understand culturally-relevant patterns of doing business in an international context. This is not only crucial for effective communication in work-teams, or cooperation between employees and employers, but also for cooperation with the company’s international subsidiaries, for negotiation with stakeholders and other companies, as well as for increasing communication potential in global corporations.


  1. Molly Babel, Jamie Russell. Expectations and speech intelligibility. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2015; 137 (5): 2823 DOI: 10.1121/1.4919317
  2. Johnston, Lucy C. & C.Neil Macrae 1994. Changing social stereotypes: the case of the information seeker. European Journal of Psychology 24:581-592
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stereotype
  4. McLeod, S. A. (2015, Oct 24). Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html
  5. Crisp, R. J., & Hewstone, M. (2007). Multiple social categorization. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 39, pp. 163–254). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
  6. N., Pam M.S., ‘NEGATIVE STEREOTYPE,’ in PsychologyDictionary.org, April 7, 2013, https://psychologydictionary.org/negative-stereotype/ (accessed May 26, 2019).
  7. What is NEGATIVE STEREOTYPE? definition of NEGATIVE STEREOTYPE (Psychology Dictionary)

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How are stereotypes related to culture?
Cultural Stereotypes Generalizations become stereotypes when all members of a group are categorized as having the same characteristics. Stereotypes can be linked to any type of cultural membership, such as nationality, religion, gender, race, or age . Also, stereotypes may be positive or negative.
How is stereotyping a barrier to intercultural communication?
Third, when we use negative stereotypes to interpret the behaviour of individuals within a group, this further impedes intercultural communication by reinforcing those negative stereotypes . Such negative stereotyping can become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” for those who are stereotyped and hence place them at risk.
What are examples of cultural stereotypes?
Cultural Stereotype Examples Americans are brash. Canadians are polite. Australians are laid-back. Mexicans are lazy. Germans are industrious. Brits have a stiff upper lip. Italians are passionate. French are arrogant.
What is cultural stereotyping?
Cultural stereotyping occurs when one assumes that all people within a culture act, think, and behave the same way . While national cultures can provide a lens to gain insights into a country, broad generalizations may not necessarily be helpful.
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