Stereotypes in Cross Cultural Communication ragarding Germans

Seminar Paper, 2003

14 Pages, Grade: 1,5 (A)




1. Introduction

2. Stereotype – A general approach
2.1. Definition of the term
2.2. Origin of the term
2.3. A critical explanation/dispute

3. German stereotypes
3.1. The importance beeing serious and unfriendly
3.2. German order
3.3. German fear and bureaucracy
3.4. The beer drinking German

4. Conclusion

Reference List


Abstract :

Where do stereotypes come from? Can stereotypes be changed?

Do stereotypes represent a culture?

Streotypes – structured sets of beliefs about the characteristics of members of social categories – influence how people attend to, encode, represent and retrieve information about others and how they judge and respond to them.

We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgement about people or situations.

In the absence of the “ total picture “ , stereotypes in many cases allow us to “ fill in the blanks “ .

Society often innocently creates and persuates stereotypes.

Can they lead to unfair discrimination or even persuation when they are unfavorable?

This assignment will give a comprehensive overview of the term – stereotype – in general and highlight the approach to the common german stereotype integrating wether this stereotype provides an accurate picture of the german people or remains a generalization which is not representative.

1 Introduction

In our days people tend to travel a lot through the world.

It is both the rising living standard in western countries and the increasing importance of international relationaships that promote interest in other cultures and life styles. Especially for the international trade in form of negotiation, transactions and deals the understanding of other cultures is inevitable.

Millions spend their vacations or business trips not only in foreign countries but also on other continents.

Even though a high pecentage of those people travel for the first time to a specified area, often they already know or - think to know - a lot about it. Interestingly enough this knowledge is mostly not obtained by reading travel guides or special literature about the country, but has much more the character of a fuzzy idea about the foreign people and their behavior. We obtain these ideas in talks with persons who have already been there, by watching films and TV or reading newspaper articles.

Often they match the real situation in the respective country only a little and are governed by some obvious basic behavior patterns.

These are the stereotyopes.

Normally they are quite superficial but on the other hand it is said that there is always some truth behind them. Unfortunately stereotypes are almost always negative because one finds the cultural differences often strange or even disgusting.

2. Stereotype – A general approach

2.1. Definition of the term

The term stereotype actually consists of two Greek words :

Stereos and tūpos, meaning rigid and trace respectively.

Social psychologists, psychiatrists used a similar term, stereotypy or stereotypie, in a metaphorical way. For them, the term described the frequent and almost mechanical repetition of the same gesture, posture or speech common in such disorders as dementia praecox.

Ethologists and clinical psychologists still use the term stereotype to refer to routine, rigid, reptitious behaviors. In Psychological Abstracts, this meaning corresponds to the entry ‘stereotyped berhaviors’, whereas, the social psychological meaning of the concept corresponds to the entry ‘stereotyped attitudes’.[1]

2.2. Origin of the term

The word stereotype was originally coined in 1798 to describe a printing process involving the use of fixed casts of the pages of type.[2]

More than two generations ago Walter Lippmann, a famous American editorialist and political thinker, wrote of stereotypes, calling them simply “pictures in our head”.

He was the one who introduced the term to the social sciences in 1922 with his book “Public opinion”.

2.3. A critical explanation/dispute

According to Lippmann, stereotypes are employed to help impose order onto a complex world.

Wether favorable or unfavorable, a stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category. It’s function is to justify (rationalize) our conduct in relation to that category.[3]

To Mr. Lippmann goes credit for establishing the conception in modern social psychology.

He never gave a precise definition of steretypes in the social psychological sense. For Lippmann, stereotypes as already mentioned were “pictures in our head”, a quasi-environment quasi-made by humans.[4]

Referring to him, people do not respond directly to objective reality but to a represantation that they have created in their minds. “The real environment is altogether too big, too complex and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtetly, so much variety, so many permutations and combinations. To traverse the world men must have maps of the world.”[5]

Stereotypes are such maps; they clarify people’s itinerary in the windigs of social reality but they will prove erroneous if used wrongly or with gullibility.[6]

As applied to cognitive represantions of social groups, the stereotype metaphor seemingly implies undesirable rigidity, permanence, and lack of variability from application to application. Although Lippmann himself was somewhat ambivalent in his evaluation of stereotypes, many social psychologists have regarded them as incorrect generalizations that are rigid, oversimplified and biased.[7] /[8] /[9] /[10]


[1] Leyens/ Yzerbyt/ Schadron (1994), Stereotypes and Social Cognition, pp. 9,10.

[2] Ashmore/ Del Boca (1981), Conceptual approaches to stereotypes and stereotyping.

[3] Allport (1954), The nature of prejudice, p. 191.

[4] Leyens/ Yzerbyt/ Schadron (1994), Stereotypes and Social Cognition, p. 10.

[5] Lippman (1922), Public opinion, pp. 10-11.

[6] Lippman (1922), Public opinion, p. 60.

[7] Stroebe/ Insko (1989), Changing conception in theory and research, p. 4.

[8] e.g. Allport (1954), The nature of prejudice.

[9] e.g. Katz/ Braly (1933), Racial stereotypes of 100 college students.

[10] e.g. Klineberg (1951), The scientific study of national stereotypes.

Excerpt out of 14 pages


Stereotypes in Cross Cultural Communication ragarding Germans
University of Lincoln  (International Business Administration)
1,5 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
529 KB
Stereotypes, Cross, Cultural, Communication, Germans
Quote paper
Boris Sosnizkij (Author), 2003, Stereotypes in Cross Cultural Communication ragarding Germans, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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