An ethnic stereotype is a simplified and often misleading representation of an ethnic group, composed of what are thought to be typical characteristics of members of a given ethnic group. These images of a particular group are used to communicate underlying messages about status, society and cultural norms.
Ethnic stereotypes are commonly portrayed in ethnic jokes, most of which usually considered to be offensive in various degrees. Richard M. Steers and Luciara Nardon in their book about global economy use the "You have two cows" joke to illustrate the concept of cultural differences. They write that jokes of this kind:
- Russian company: You have two cows. You drink some vodka and count them again. You have five cows. The Russian Mafia shows up and takes however many cows you have.
- Californian company: You have a million cows. Most of them are illegals.
– are considered funny because they are realistic caricatures of various cultures, and the pervasiveness of such jokes stems from the significant cultural differences. Steers and Nardon also state that others believe that cultural stereotype in jokes of this kind must be viewed with caution.
Ethnic stereotypes can sometimes reinforce positive values that will benefit one group over another. Such as the typical American hero of Hollywood who will intelligently triumph against all odds.
Various anti-national phobias and prejudices operate with ethnic stereotypes.
- Alí, Maurizio. (2010). Medios de comunicación, asuntos étnicos e intercultura en Colombia. En Revista Razón y Palabra, 74 (nov.2010/ene.2011). México DF: ITESM Campus Estado de México. ISSN 1605-4806.
- Terracciano A, Abdel-Khalek AM, Adám N, et al. (Oct 2005). "National character does not reflect mean personality trait levels in 49 cultures". Science 310 (5745): 96–100. doi:10.1126/science.1117199. PMC 2775052. PMID 16210536.