Functions and meaning of stereotypes

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Meaning of the stereotypes

Stereotypes allow building the suppositions about the reasons and possible consequences of own and other people’s deeds. With the help of stereotypes a person is given these or those gains and qualities and at this base it is possible to predict his behavior. So, as in a communication generally, so as in a situation of intercultural contacts the stereotypes are playing very important role.

As it was already said, the effective stereotypization helps people to understand the situation and act in compliance with the new circumstances. That’s why stereotype can be not only an obstacle in the communication but also give a certain Good in the following cases: if it is consciously kept (The individual must understand that the stereotype is reflecting the group norms and values, group features and characteristics, and not specific qualities which are intrinsic to separately taken individual from the given group); if stereotype is a descriptive and not estimating (this assumes the reflection in stereotypes of the real and objective qualities and features of people of the given group but not their estimation as good or bad); if the stereotype is precise (this means that stereotype must express the features and characteristics of group to which the person belongs); if stereotype is only a guess about group but not the direct information about it (this means that the first impression about group is not always true knowledge about all individuals of the given group); if stereotype is modified (it means that it is based at the further observations and experience of communication with the real people or derives from the experience of the real situation).

There is a number of reasons according to which the stereotypes can prevent the intercultural communication:

1) Behind the stereotypes it is difficult to define the individual features of people. The stereotypization supposes that all members of group have the same features. Such approach is applied to all group and to the separate individual during the certain period of time in spite of the individual variations.

2) Stereotypes repeat and strengthen the certain mistaken beliefs and views till the people start to perceive then as the true.

3) Stereotypes are based at the half-truth and distortions. Saving the real characteristics of the stereotyped group, the stereotypes with this are distorting the reality and giving unfaithful representations about people with whom the intercultural contacts happen.

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