We know the power of categorization: stereotypes are based on that.
Stereotypes are also easily triggered – and many of my clients feel “stuck” simply because they cannot see a significant other as a person, beyond the stereotype of his or her role.
For example, in a recent interview, a manager told me that now finally he has a very good relationship with his boss. The manager attributed his change of heart to a recent health problem he had: during that crisis his boss was very supportive and the manager was finally able to see his boss as a “human being” with whom he could relate as a “person”.
All this occurred to me today during my long run.
I am a frequent user of the bike paths and trails of the East Bay.
Sometimes I walk them.
Sometimes I bike them.
Most of the times, I run them.
Being a walker, a runner and a biker I say “hi” to everyone I come across during my outdoor activity, regardless of their being runners, bikers or hikers – I can relate to all of them!
However, the response I elicit is peculiar: when I run, runners say hi, but not the bikers or the hikers: when I hike, other hikers are all smiles and we exchange a few words… but no acknowledgment whatsoever from bikers and runners. When I am on a bike, only bikers greet me back.
I guess they all see me not as another human being but as a runner, or a hiker, or a biker.
And only peers respond, because we share the same activity and we sweat the path in the same way.
I am not immune, either..
Now that I come to think of it, I never said hi to a rollerskater!! :)
Multi-culturalism is a word I do not like, and it rates just above “plague” in my own dictionary.
That is because I do not believe in the relativistic nature of that approach, which caused more harm than good: it left us in Europe with increasing levels of anomie, and that is bad according to positive psychology and to my own experience.
Not having a theoretical framework, though, that means i am more curious about cultural differences!
One thing I noticed just by reading the news is the different age labels.
It might happen that in England a 21-year-old man kills an 18 year old youth.
But in Italy a 33 – year – old youth runs over and kills two kids aged 22 and 23.
As a general rule, in England and in the USA:
“boy” : 10 – 15 year old dude
“youth”: 15 -18 year old dude
“man”: 18 year old or older
“boy”: up to the age of 30
“youth”: up to the age of 40
“man”: 40 year old or older
Well, let’s put it this way: I am very happy to become a “man” in 2009 in a Country full of boys, girls and youth! :-)