Balancing Actions to Counteract Stereotyping
There are a number of ways to counteract stereotypes, both your own and those of others. We have called these techniques “balancing actions.”
Some balancing actions are:
- Thinking about and/or sharing “counter-examples” that provide different information about others from a particular group. (ex: ” I worked with several Hispanic teenagers last year who did x, y, and z and that sure is different from the stories you’ve heard.”)
- Pointing out positive aspects of a particular ethnic group. (” Latinos usually have strong family ties. They are used to sacrificing to help one another.”)
- Relying on more specific adjectives to describe an individual rather than just the ethnic group. (ex: “There is a girl named Luisa who is a fine student, has a good sense of humor, likes sports, and is Hispanic”)
- Watching language patterns to avoid making sweeping statements such as, “they all…” or “They always…”
- Adding cultural/ethnic information that helps contribute to understanding the “grain of truth” in a particular stereotype.
- Actively question (perhaps only to yourself) the reliability of the source of the information; resisting the impulse to stereotype based on one (or even two or three) incidents.
- Politely disagree (ex.., “Really, you know, I just have to disagree because that hasn’t been my experience…”)
- Pointing out how easily it is to look at extremes or the exotic and stereotype from them, forgetting about all the others in the middle who do not stand out.
- Thinking of oneself or saying out loud to another. ” I know I have had several experiences with kids from _____, however, that characteristic is not always evident and let me be careful not to prejudice…”
- Challenge possible pre-judgment or false interpretation of behavior by pointing out that judgments and interpretations of behavior viewed from one’s own cultural/ethnic perspective may not hold true for another cultural/ethnic group.
Youth for Understanding /4-H Intercultural Communications Unit IV Stereotyping Draft – 1992 revised.