The sad thing about this situation is that it leads to the persistence of national stereotypes. We don’t see the people of other nations as they really are, but as we have been brought up to believe they are. You can test this for yourself. Take five nationalities, say, French, German, English, American and Italian. Now in your mind, match them with these five adjectives: musical, amorous, cold, pedantic, native. Far from providing us with any insight into the national characteristics of the peoples just mentioned, these adjectives actually act as barriers. So when you set out on your travels, the only characteristics you notice are those which confirm your preconceptions. You come away with the highly unoriginal and inaccurate impression that, say, ‘Anglo-Saxons are hypocrites’ of that ‘Latin peoples shout a lot’. You only have to make a few foreign friends to understand how absurd and harmful national stereotypes are. But how can you make foreign friends when the tourist trade does its best to prevent you?
Carried to an extreme, stereotypes can be positively dangerous. Wild generalizations stir up racial hatred and blind us to the basic fact—how trite it sounds! – That all people are human. We are all similar to each other and at the same time all unique.