Stereotypes of the Arabs and Chinese: A Study on Intercultural Communication

Yahya Hassan Sharahili


Researchers in the field of social psychology have noticed the importance of image cognition and inherent experience for a person's position on the political and social issues .They tried to define their characteristics, influences and development. Social psychologist Walter Lippmann (1992) put forward the concept of image cognition for the first time on the public opinions   and pointed out that human beings must define the real world through image cognition measures owing to the finiteness of cognition and limitation of ability. Borjars (1999) set the standard of scientific cognition for the masses to discriminate oneself from other people and made efforts to apply the said standard to a group of Americans aiming at the experiment of differentiating people from England, Poland, Korea and Sweden four years .

Scientists in the field of psychological research emphasize the image cognition is gotten from direct experience of a person by contacting with other individuals and organization or from media indirectly, thus indicating communicate between individuals and among groups are main factors constructing image cognition. 

The term "image" refers to the close link between communication and image cognition.  Various definitions emphasize the function of intercourses in the formation of image cognition. In this regard we can interpret that the mental picture is the final product of impressions of the self on things with certain amount of information by the organization or the masses. 

Accordingly, the attention on the research on image was diverted to media study from 1960s. "Lee Bristol (1960)" published   Development of Image Cognition   and made an important contribution to the spread of the concept of media, trading and political ground. With the publication of International behavior: A social-psychological analysis, the works of Herbert Kelman (1965) and his colleagues, the attention on image cognition was extended to the field of international relations. The book discussed the function of communication in the formation of conceptual image in the heart of a nation or a country or people of other countries and generated the term as "national image".

The image is interrelated with the intercultural communication. The intercultural communication is a critical factor constructing self-image cognition of the masses and social groups. Similarly, the fixed image cognition plays an important role in the successful communication of culture. There are many avenues for intercultural communication today. In this regard, tourism can be seen as one of the avenues for intercultural communication.

War makes intercultural contacts. Travel note introducing also make bridges between cultures.

Film is one of the most important means of cultural exchange and contacts. It can build a positive or negative image in the audience. Internet has become a very important means of cultural exchange. Education makes contact with many of host cultures. It is one of the main approaches for a group to form image cognition.

Language carries the cultural factors. Each society fixes its cultural image through language. Language becomes the means of transmitting the culture, such as the popularity of French in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, etc…

Exchange visits and communication activities among missions of governments and civil missions are important means of cultural exchange, strengthen diplomatic relations between two countries and are beneficial to the exchange visits and seminar between two countries. Economic and trade links make great contribution to the cultural exchange. Sales of Chinese goods in African area bring the cultural links between China and Africa and form the image cognition on Chinese people far away in the hearts of African people.

In recent years, people pay more attention to the research on image cognition in the world. Countries and governments hope to establish a good picture internationally and promote the development by utilizing the results of this research. Miscommunication is not only a causing factor to damage the country’s image but also damages the contacts with other countries and sometime raises clashes with them. 


Arabs and Chinese; Stereotypes; Intercultural communication

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