Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stereotypes, bias, and the mind

As a member of a culturally stigmatized group (Americans) in the eyes of many of the people I come into contact with while I travel for work. I found these designs by Yanko Tsvetkov highly entertaining. After all, I recognize that the we, of the much vilified USA, have earned our bad reputation. We often are loud talking, impatient, greedy capitalists.
From Yanko Tsvetkov's Mapping Stereotypes
Stereotypes of many Europeans that are held my Americans are not too far off the mark. Stereotypes and biases (cultural or otherwise) are an important part of how people work. With the amount of data that the typical person is confronted with daily, to process every decision, each interaction from a neutral stand point is a veritable impossibility. 
The brain is hardwired to run off of these biases (or prejudices). What is important to note is how we use that bias. Do we blindly accept it, or do we thoughtfully challenge them? Knowing the bias likely held for us, should also inform how we can interact more effectively with strangers.
What do we project when we are in the foreign land, or the new city, or company. Do we support or contradict the stereotypes? Do we perceive that everybody that we meet falls into the stereotypes that have been assigned them?

To not accept that the human mind runs on bias is short sighted, but to blindly follow those biases is what gets us into trouble. Some reading about how to use this understanding of bias and prejudice can be extracted from the following books:

The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving

Mapping Stereotypes by alphadesigner                                               Search for Travel Deals

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