Ways that unconscious and hidden bias / stereotypes impact my behavior as a student
The problem with stereotypes is that they are a weird mixture of information we collect and select without being entirely aware. Also, for the stereotypes it is essential to be a concept of “me” and “the others”.
As a student in an university that is becoming increasingly more international, I believe most stereotypes that have an impact on my life are based on nationality, which is assumed by appearance.
It is hard to pinpoint how these stereotypes affect our lives, since we can only identify those are stereotypes after being confronted by information that shows our thoughts and actions were influences by stereotypes.
For me, stereotypes are models we make in our had based on the attributes of certain characteristics to groups. I believe one of the big problems of stereotypes is that these groups are incredibly flexible and sometimes another person is part of a group identify as mine or as a distinct group. For example, in south america Argentinians and Brazilians have an amicable tension based on competition, but in a foreign country it is likely they will realize they are very similar in a broader context.
Because it is easy to confuse stereotypes, it is hard to tell to which extent our stereotypes affect our lives. It gets worse when we reinforce stereotypes with personal experiences, making it harder for us to really know and understand the person of thing that fits the stereotype we carry.
I think that the stereotype that has been affecting me the most is to try to engage only with people who I believe will understand my western cultural background and who will have no language barriers to speak with me. In this case, this has caused me to try harder to communicate with people and I believe there is a lot I might have missed because of this.
For example, I like hiking and there is a hiking club in Tokyo Tech. For my cultural background, a club should be a fun activity that you are free to join when you have interest and that there should not be a strong compromise. However, I have the stereotype that clubs in the universities in Japan are very strict and that once you join the club you can not miss the meeting and activities. I actually do not know if this is particularly true for the hiking club in Tokyo Tech, but it was strong enough so that I didn’t go to the club members directly and ask.