First of all, what is the definition? A stereotype is a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like, especially an idea that is normally wrong. For example, all Russians play balalaika, all Chinese know Kung Fu, all Romanians are vampires.
There are of course advantages and disadvantages of stereotypes. One advantage is that it enables us to respond rapidly to situations because we can relate to similar experiences we have had in the past. It simplify our social world. The disadvantage is that it makes us ignore differences between individuals - we generalize at this point.
How do stereotypes come to our life? Much of what enters our consciousness, of course, comes from the culture around us. According to statement of Margo Monteith, Professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky: «we learn the subtext of our culture's messages early. By five years of age many children have definite and entrenched stereotypes about people in color, women, and other social groups.» In most cases our consciousness formed by peer pressure, mass media, the actual balance of power in society.
Here are some stereotypes I faced about my country:
1. Surely the most famous stereotype is that Russians drink a lot of Vodka. Based on WHO (World Health Organization) Data the country is leader in episodical drinking what means 60 and more grams of pure alcohol on at least one single occasion at least once per month. However people see Russians as the most drinking nation, while the maximum of total alcohol per capita consumption in liters of pure alcohol 2016 reached in French, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Nigeria, etc.
2. The second popular stereotype and drink - Russians drink tea. This one is 100% true. On average, a Russian drinks three cups of tea a day, while approximately 10 percent drink over six cups of tea daily.
3. It is dangerous in Russia because of Mafia everywhere. Not because of Mafia of course, but it is partly true, as the safety rate connects to average income of citizens which is actually not high. The Russian Federation's homicide rate is 11.3, much higher than the OECD (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 3.6. However based on OECD statistics 52% of people in Russia say that they feel safe walking alone at night, this rate is a little higher than e.g. in Hungary. To my mind in each city there are streets and districts which are highly recommended do not enter. So, in the old town of Russian cities it will be surely safe.
4. Russia has best hackers ever. Ha-ha! :) Mass media knows it quite well! But seriously, Russian students often finish in the top spots in international math and programming competitions.
5. Russians are bad drivers. And YouTube videos confirm it! I would partly agree with this stereotype. Our drivers have lack of «driving culture», they could be rude and impatient that causes many accidents.
As you may see stereotypes can be truly, however it does not mean the person you meet fit the stereotypes you have. Talk to each other, expand your horizons, break stereotypes!