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Reflecting personally on Week 2

This week we first listed and categorized various identities. While our personalities, skills and social roles affect us, we focused on issues related to cultural identities (group membership or links to ethnic, sexual, religious, regional, or other groupings) and how they shape our patterns, expectations, and interactions with others.

We then moved on to explain what happens when groups are formed and when they are in contact with each other. Social identity theory helps us understand the natural roots of ethnocentrism. It also explains why people are motivated to favor in-groups and how this preference is formed through categorization, identification, and comparison.

We are reminded that our perceptions are shaped by our cultures, which will most likely go on to shape our attitudes and behaviors. If we are not careful, our stereotypes about a particular group may develop into prejudice and even discrimination. But Allport’s intergroup contact hypothesis gives us some practical measures to decrease these negative outcomes, particularly describing four possible conditions for forming positive intergroup relations and reducing prejudice.

We hope that through this week you have become more aware of the effects of identities and more mindful for future interactions with people from other cultures. Let us know what you think about taking initiatives to contact people from groups that you least know little about or sense some prejudice against. This is a good time to step out for more communication, the focus of Week 3.

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This article is from the free online course:

Intercultural Communication

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)