How Others See Us

A stereotype is “a fixed, over generalised belief about a particular group or class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996) These generalisations about cultures or nationalities can be a source of pride for some, anger for others, and simply harmless fun for most of us.

Whether or not there is any truth in these stereotypes, or if they are they totally unfounded assumptions is another matter, which I’m not going to enter into; this blog is intended to entertain, and of course I hope nobody feels offended by it.

So here are some of the most common stereotypes about some European nationalities.

Let’s start with Italians: Italian men have a reputation of being Casanovas, as well as very passionate and fashion-addicted. Some think that Italians eat pasta and pizza every day. Their speech is famous for being accompanied by exaggerated gesticulations. The typical Frenchman is usually regarded as a mustachioed man wearing a striped sweater and carrying a baguette under his arm. Also, France is associated with love and romanticism. While Germans are considered to be extremely organised and highly efficient, Greek people are portrayed as being too conservative, and are famous for breaking their plates after meals.

As for the British, they have a reputation of being incredibly polite and punctual, always carrying an umbrella, and ready to drop everything for a cup of tea! There are also many stereotypes about Spaniards – we are portrayed as being lazy, having long “siestas”, and also as being food lovers (“paella” and “jamón). Some think that all of us like bull fights and can dance flamenco. In Spain everybody is always late, and smokes and talks all the time!

Where do these stereotypes come from? Stereotypes are cultural phenomena which are transmitted by the media, education, popular legends and jokes, and they can influence our perception of foreign people.

Personally, I don’t think that stereotypes like the ones above are particularly bad, as long as you take them with a pinch of salt! But I would like to say that we must be careful, since negative stereotypes may lead to prejudice and discrimination. Nothing good comes from judging someone before you get to know who they really are.

What’s your opinion? Do you think that stereotypes are ever going to stop?