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Origins of stereotypes and clichés

By definition, a stereotype is several beliefs shared regarding the personal characteristics and the personality traits of a group of person. Not to be confused with prejudices, which is a judgement that people have on something or someone they don’t know.

All around the world, people use clichés to define a country or a part of a country. Actually, do you now from where these stereotypes come from?

I have been hearing so many stereotypes that I had to know why and how they started. Like rumours, stereotypes were created because of a lack of information concerning the targeted population.

Indeed, during our childhood, to differentiate such or such people coming from different countries, we had to put clichés on them to distinguish the origins. Just like darkness is a lack of lights, cliché is a lack of information.

On the other hand, the origins of stereotypes are to be found in our perception of things. In our society, we have been used to classify things in categories to be able to rate them or analyse them. It also enables us to understand things more easily when you are a child, and it has been remained in our minds. Actually our brain receives tons of informations, that is why it has to simplify these numerous information and by this way create stereotypes. But these information directly come from what we learned and heard from our fellows.

To avoid clichés, do not trust what people say about foreigners if you did not have your own experience with them. Even if unconsciously you will remember them, try to make your own opinion by having some moments with them. Travel and see by yourself how the people are, you will see that for many of them the clichés we gave about them are wrong. That is the social dimension of the origin of stereotypes we have. People around us, depending on their culture (you too) will venture some facts about a civilization and this will stay in your mind without wishing it. If your neighbour describes its trip in Italy and mentioned that they speak loud, have the best pizzas and wear suits, you will directly think it for all Italian people. However, like in any other country of the world, many Italians are quiet and wear jeans and tee-shirt, while eating an industrial pizza.

Naturally, people are afraid about the unknown and to struggle against this phenomenon, our brain identifies some things to a group of people to put them into categories. In essence, the human-being doesn’t put up the lack of information about a subject. Thus, the brain will dumbly associate any information about something without taking into consideration our own judgement. This way, the brain fills this lack about the unknown subject.

In conclusion, I would basically say what any other person would say about clichés: Do not trust them and try to make your own opinion. If you can’t deny, do not spread clichés by saying unjustified trivialities.

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