There is no doubt that national culture, traditions, and customs impact our behaviors and shape self-identity. In its turn, cultural and social identity largely defines actions and decisions every person makes, influences his or her social orientations and preferences. At the same time, the term “cultural competence” implies the ability to engage in reciprocal interactions rooted in mutual understanding and an attitude of openness between people from diverse backgrounds. Since different multicultural stereotypes prevent a person from being open, they represent the major barriers to cultural competence.
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Copping, Kurtz-Costes, Rowley, and Wood (2013) define stereotypes as “shared knowledge structures pertaining to specific social groups” (p. 2). Stereotyping is a common phenomenon. In its nature, the human mind tends to categorize things to make the process of thinking and familiarization with the world and its numerous uncertainties easier. Nevertheless, stereotypes often have negative meanings and rarely reflect the truth about people.
When observing myself, I find that I am prone to stereotyping as well. It seems to be an automatic process affecting my behavior despite the fact I do not appreciate stereotypes at all. Although I do not have negative attitudes to particular cultural population groups and I always try to stay objective, in one way or another, my perception of cultures may be biased because I receive information about them primarily from indirect sources such as mass and social media, etc.
Overall, I recognize that stereotypes are inaccurate and wrongful. However, to reduce their influence on my behavior and decisions, I need to engage in transcultural communication more often and have a first-hand experience of cultures. Moreover, to develop cultural competence, I should continuously evaluate the knowledge structures adopted from the environment and supported by my personal experiences. There is a chance that by reflecting on my own biases more frequently, I will be able to get rid of them and consequently improve cultural competence.
Copping, K. E., Kurtz-Costes, B., Rowley, S. J., & Wood, D. (2013). Age and race differences in racial stereotype awareness and endorsement. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(5), 971–980.