Zhao, Chunyao (2018) A Comparative Study of British and Chinese Stereotypes in Cross-Cultural Interaction. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Stereotype, as a ubiquitous and persistent social phenomenon, has been a key issue in social psychology for some ninety or so years since Lippmann introduced it into social science in 1922. However, “Stereotypes wear the black hats in social science” (Schneider, 2004:1) and, to some extent, stereotypes themselves have been stereotyped, as the traditionally held view has focused on the negative values of stereotyping and viewed it as a static factor in social perception. In this view, stereotypes were considered to be overgeneralisations, inaccurate assumptions, and the cognitive roots of prejudice even discrimination, which are best avoided.

Stereotypes have recently claimed an important place in the field of intergroup relations and intercultural communication, but reciprocal interaction between self- and other- perceptions across different ethnic groups in the cross-cultural context has gone largely un-discussed in cross-cultural pragmatic studies. This thesis is an attempt to fill the void by theoretically situating in cross-cultural pragmatics, and empirically investigating one cross-cultural pairing, i.e., British and Chinese overseas students. Moreover, this work will focus on the conventional but perennial issues in stereotype research, i.e., the accuracy, role and pragmatic functions of stereotyping as realised in an interactive context. A mixed methods research methodology has been employed as a procedure for collecting, analysing, and integrating both qualitative and quantitative data in two consecutive phases: (1) focus group interview; (2) questionnaire survey. The aim is to build a holistic perspective to illuminate the research questions.

The objectives are to probe the cross-cultural practitioners’ first-hand stereotypical perceptions of self and others through their interactive practice, generate insights into the impact and pragmatic functions of stereotyping, and thereby shed light on stereotype research. This thesis serves to assess the evidence of ‘kernel of truth’ hypothesis and bridge the divergences between British stereotypes of Chinese people and Chinese stereotypes of themselves and vice-versa. Ultimately, therefore, the stereotyping is demonstrated as pragmatic device to assist interactants in achieving more harmonious and mutually beneficial interactions as what is perceived can help interactants predict, expect, and explain what is meant in specific cultural context.

Chunyao Zhao FINAL THESIS.PDF - Accepted Version
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