Cultural Psychologist Michele Gelfand on American and Pakistani Stereotypes

Americans see Pakistanis as "aggressive and violent" while Pakistanis say Americans are "loose, immoral and arrogant", according to research study findings of American cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand. She told an interviewer that the American media portrayed Pakistanis as "big bad wolf".  Gelfand is a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland. She studies why different cultures accept different levels of rule-making. 

Cultural Psychologist Michele Gelfand, Author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers


In an interview with Kara Swisher of Recode, Gelfand said Americans and Pakistanis usually "meet in the media". In other words, their perceptions of each other are based on media stereotyping of the two nations. "Pakistanis think Americans are half naked all the time. They don’t just think we’re loose, they think we’re exceedingly loose", she said.  Gelfand found that Americans "don’t think about Pakistanis as playing sports or reading poetry. They think about them as excessively tight". Here's an excerpt of Gelfand's book titled "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers": 

"My research similarly shows that creating spaces for empathy can prove invaluable for combating intergroup hostility. In 2015, my research assistants and I interviewed Americans and Pakistanis on their views of each other’s culture. We found that both groups held highly negative beliefs and stereotypes about the other. Pakistanis didn’t just see Americans as loose, but as immoral and arrogant. Americans saw Pakistanis as overly constrained, but also aggressive and violent. As impressions are often formed through the media, which thrives on caricature, such extreme stereotyping is perhaps not surprising. What’s more, we tend to live in our own echo chambers. Even on Twitter and Facebook, we communicate with those we know and those who share our views, rather than engaging with people from other cultures. In our study, we wondered if we could lessen intergroup intergroup hostility by giving each group a more realistic window into each other’s lives. We didn’t have the budget to fly Pakistanis to the United States or vice versa. But what if Americans were able to read the actual daily diaries of Pakistanis, and Pakistanis were able to read the diaries of Americans, over the course of a week? Would this exposure to one another’s day-to-day lives change their attitudes? To find out, my collaborator Joshua Jackson and I had American and Pakistani students write about their everyday experiences for one week. We then gave a new group of participants, including a hundred American and a hundred Pakistani students, a set of these diary entries to read over the course of a week. The results of this low-cost intervention were striking: As compared with participants who read diary entries from members of their own culture, participants who read diary entries written by members of the other culture viewed the two cultures as being much more similar. What’s more, Pakistani participants who read Americans’ diaries viewed Americans as more moral and as having less of a sense of superiority over other cultures. And, by the end of this intervention, our American participants who read diaries written by Pakistanis viewed Pakistanis as less violent and more fun-loving. “I don’t know many Pakistanis personally, but the diary entries helped me learn about the everyday life of someone in Pakistan,” one American participant wrote at the study’s end. “I think that they tend to be a bit more religious than the people in America, but have similar life patterns and personalities to us.” Likewise, a Pakistani participant remarked, “Americans may be different than us in moral, ethical, or religious values, but the lives of students in America are very similar to the life of a student here . . . They are law-abiding citizens, which is one of the reasons the system in America is working smoothly.” As these quotes show, interventions that improve our understanding of people from other cultures hold tremendous promise for defusing stereotypes, heading off conflict, and resolving intercultural disputes. Every day, citizens are finding meaningful ways to interact with people far outside their own social circles. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that, in a Dairy Queen in Dallas, Texas, two American-born men decided to have a sit-down over burgers and fries to untangle their mutual suspicion. On one end, there was David Wright, a white man who had founded a militia called the Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR) with the mission of rooting out Islamic terrorists in Texas. At the other end was Ali Ghouri, a member of a local mosque where Wright and his coalition had protested twice with weapons and signs reading “Stop the Islamization of America.” Against the advice of other members of his mosque, Ghouri confronted the protesters, saying, “I have a weapon. You have a weapon. I’m not scared of you.” Five months later, Wright and Ghouri met at the Dairy Queen. Each man brought a friend—and a gun". 

The study by Michele Gelfand and Joshua Conrad Jackson, a PhD students at the University of North Carolina, started with 10 Americans and 10 Pakistanis — who were about 24 years old on average — submitting diaries over a one-week period. Gelfand and Jackson then recruited 100 Pakistanis and 100 Americans — who were about 21 years old on average — to read a Pakistani or American diary every day for one week, telling the participants the diaries were for a social memory study. Before and after reading the diaries, the participants rated how much they believe a particular stereotype about the opposite culture. If a participant read a diary from their own culture, they rarely changed their attitudes about the other culture. But when participants read diaries from the opposite culture, researchers found they felt less prejudice toward it — results Gelfand called “amazing.” “They tended to see each other as more human, as more similar,” Gelfand said. “They still saw each other as different, but they really, really changed the way that they viewed each other.” 

Gelfand and Jackson's diary reading intervention helped both Pakistanis and Americans have a better understanding of each other. Here's how she describes it in her book "Rules Makers, Rules Breakers": "Pakistani participants who read Americans’ diaries viewed Americans as more moral and as having less of a sense of superiority over other cultures. And, by the end of this intervention, our American participants who read diaries written by Pakistanis viewed Pakistanis as less violent and more fun-loving". 

Here's a video clip of CNN analyst Van Jones talking about Pakistani-Americans:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr5cLv8Dj2I





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hindus and Muslim Well-educated in America But Least Educated Worldwide

What's Driving Islamophobia in America?

Pakistani-Americans Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group in Silicon Valley

The Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 


Comments

Michele Gelfand said…
Thanks Riaz
here is the paper: https://6da7445f-6d63-4d8a-8fb3-542cdc35731b.filesusr.com/ugd/6df109_e3301eaf9464402697b204c3bea709c6.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Malcolm Turnbull says News Corp the most powerful Australian political actor

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/utterly-unaccountable-turnbull-labels-news-corp-the-most-powerful-political-actor-in-australia-20210412-p57idq.html


Giving evidence by video link, Mr Turnbull said the Murdoch media business had evolved into a powerful political force that, unlike political parties, was unaccountable to the Australian public.

“This is the fundamental problem that we’re facing: the most powerful political actor in Australia is not the Liberal Party or the National Party or the Labor Party. It is News Corp. And it’s utterly unaccountable,” Mr Turnbull said. “It’s controlled by an American family and their interests are no longer, if they ever were, coextensive with our own.”

Mr Turnbull, a Liberal, has joined former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd as a strident critic of News Corp and has backed his push for a royal commission into the influence of the Murdoch empire on the Australian media and political landscape. The media diversity inquiry, which is examining issues of media concentration in Australia, was established by the Senate after more than 500,000 people signed a petition by Mr Rudd voicing those concerns.

In his evidence to the inquiry in February, Mr Rudd said News Corp used systematic character assassinations to cultivate a culture of fear among politicians and engaged in campaign journalism against issues such as action on climate change.

At the same public hearing, News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller dismissed Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull’s criticisms as “a convenient diversion from their own failings” during his evidence. News Corp executive Campbell Reid gave evidence the company was “professional, accountable media” that operated in the Australian landscape “with an extraordinary degree of both government, and indeed regulatory, oversight and legal oversight if we get things wrong”.

“Our editing process – for all professional media – is high stakes because we can be charged with contempt of court, our journalists can be threatened with jail, we can be taken to the Press Council, and we can be held up to scrutiny by other organisations, which is completely different to the misinformation industry that is perpetuated by and is a driver of, frankly, profit online,” Mr Campbell told the inquiry in February.

Mr Turnbull echoed many of Mr Rudd’s concerns, saying he had experienced “bullying and standover tactics” from News Corp when he served in the Parliament.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani Americans are the eighth largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese American, Filipino American, Asian Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans and Cambodian American communities. They are also the second largest South Asian American ethnic group, after Asian Indian Americans, and have one of the largest Muslim American ethnic groups in the United States, after the African American community.


https://geriatrics.stanford.edu/ethnomed/pakistani/introduction.html

Pakistan is ranked as the 12th highest source country for immigration into the United States. Compared to other heritage groups in the United States, Pakistani Americans are well educated with an estimated 60% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher professional degrees.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there were 81,691 individuals who identified themselves as of Pakistani origin. A U.S Census Bureau American community survey in conducted in 2005 showed that there has been a tremendous growth of the Pakistani American population with an estimated 210,000 (+/- 18,989) persons reporting a Pakistani descent who are currently living in the United States. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005)

The Census Bureau, however, excluded the population living in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters from all population groups. The Pakistani embassy estimates the number of people of Pakistani origin living in United States to be much higher, closer to 600,000. (Government of Pakistan, 2004, p. 30)

There are two distinct groups of Pakistani older adults in the United States:
1. Older adults who immigrate to the US
This group consists of the parents or grandparents who immigrated to the US to be reunited with their adult children and to spend their remaining days in the care of their children.

2. Adults who immigrate to the US and live here and become older adults
This group consists of the professionals and their nuclear families who immigrated to this country in the 1950s and 1970s. Their acculturation trajectory is very different from that of the first group as these subjects have often joined the American work force and lived here for many years and may be well acculturated into the American culture.

Given their degree of acculturation, this group’s communication skills, decision-making patterns and clinical adherence patterns are likely to differ significantly from those of the older adults who immigrate to the US, to be reunited with their adult children.

Preferred Cultural Terms
The preferred term for Americans with roots in Pakistan is Pakistani American, regardless of their province of origin in Pakistan.

Currently, an estimated 10% of Pakistani Americans are over the age of 55 and the estimated percentage of older adults (>65 years) is about 4.1 percent.

Between the periods of 1989–1992, an estimated 2,433 elders over the age of 60 years emigrated from Pakistan to the United States. In 2005, it was estimated that there were a total of 9342 Pakistani elders with the elderly men (53.3%) slightly outnumbering the women (46.7). About 95.9 % of the Pakistani elders were foreign-born (Young & Gu, 1995; US Census Bureau, 2005).

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