Results of a class demonstration of stereotypes


In late September 2004, 52 students in this course voluntarily participated in a survey of cultural stereotypes.  All were given a questionaire asking (1)  to list up to five words phrases that first came to mind when thinking about Canadians, Chinese, Iranians and Americans, and (2) to rate each word/phrse they listed on a scale from -3 = very negative to +3 = very positive.


Among the most common words/phrases used to describe Canadians were:

friendly

peaceful/easy going

multicultural

hockey

polite


Among the most common words/phrases used to describe Chinese were:

hardworking

smart

serious

traditional

bad drivers


There were far fewer words/phrases given for Iranians, likely reflecting lack of knowledge of the culture.  Among those given, some of the most popular were:

religious/muslim

shy/reserved/private

covered

intelligent

warm

terrorist


Finally, among the most common word/phrases used to describe Americans were:

arrogant

ignorant/stupid

self absorbed/love themselves

rich/greedy

Bush


How were the words/phrases describing these four cultures rated?  The average self-ratings of the words/phrases the respondents used to describe members of the four cultures are as follows:

Canadians: +1.9

Chinese: +0.8

Iranians: +0.6

Americans: - 0.7


The results thus reveal that these 52 Canadian respondents were quite positive about Canadians, moderately positive about Chinese and Iranians, and moderately negative about Americans.  


Questions for discussion: Are the stereotypes indicated by these results accurate? For example, what proportion of Iranians are terrorists?  What proportion of Americans are arrogant?  And how do we know which people have these attributes and which do not?