- Generalizations are neutral, relative descriptions of a group’s dominant preferences. Generalizations support more complex perceptions and experiences of cultural differences and commonalities.
- Stereotypes are evaluative, overgeneralized personal traits assigned to a group. Stereotypes support less complex perceptions and experiences of cultural differences and commonalities.
Cultural Generalizations are neutral, relative descriptions of a group’s preferences typically shared by a majority of the people from a particular community. Cultural generalizations support a more complex set of perceptions and experience of cultural difference and commonalities.
The main difference between the two is that generalizations are noticed from cultural patterns based on a more complex understanding of culture. For example. we might say that people from the U.S. tend to be more individualistic (vs. collectivistic) with the understanding that, while individualism is common in the U.S., it is not absolute. It is certainly possible that someone could live in the U.S. and depend on group harmony as opposed to independence (e.g. have more of a collectivist mindset than an individualistic one). Though a person may make decisions about the people they interact with in the U.S. with this in mind, it would inform their choices but would not narrow them. This is an example of a cultural generalization.
Cultural Stereotypes, on the other hand, are evaluative overgeneralizations that assign (usually negative) personal traits to a group of people. Stereotypes support a less complex set of perceptions & experience of cultural difference and commonalities. For example, if we said a person from the U.S. values freedom because they live in the U.S. this illustrates a less complex understanding based on limited experience and is an overgeneralization of personal traits based on a group the person belongs to.