15 November, 2012
Nonverbal communication is greatly influenced by differences in cultures and the
way we are socialized. Three countries that vary greatly in nonverbal communication
styles include the United States, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. Each country has contrasting
cultural stereotypes based on appearance such as certain clothing that is worn or
historical facts. The uses of gestures in these countries differentiate in meaning, as well.
Touch is another form of nonverbal communication that sends altering messages from the
above-mentioned countries. Several types of nonverbal communication are universal in
many cultures, but the majority fluctuates in what they portray.
Stereotypes are based off of many different components such as clothing, history, and what we see in the media. Americans have a wide variation of stereotypes seen through the eyes of other cultures. A well-known mold that targets people in the United States is the obesity epidemic; Americans are fat and obese. For example, “Americans eat fast food only, and get obese fast. But there are Americans who don’t want to be obese, so they get 23,534 plastic surgeries to be thin”(Abagond, 2011). Another assumption outside countries have formed of the United States is they are the “World Policeman”, and America meddles into global problems other than their own. Many countries think, “Americans believe all the world needs their help, even if it means military intervention, and civilian casualties. Only when their soldiers begin to die in large numbers, Americans start protesting against military intervention” (Abagond, 2011). “The American Dream” is also a very universal stereotype. Citizens in the Unites States are viewed as money hungry individuals who view becoming extremely wealthy as their greater good. “All Americans can think about is money, and getting more money so they can buy, buy, buy! They judge everything by its economic value. Being rich and owning expensive things is the number one imperative for Americans. Being poor is seen as a moral failure. This is the most popular stereotype about Americans” (Abagond, 2011). The appearance of the Arab culture in Saudi Arabia is predominantly seen in a negative light. This became in effect strongly after the 9-11 attacks in New York City. People immediately began stereotyping any person with the Middle Eastern ethnicity as a “terrorist”, “harmful”, or “untrustworthy. “American stereotypes are revealed mostly through an examination of media coverage of events such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 1970's civil war in Lebanon, and acts of terrorism involving Arabs--particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001” (Salem Press, 2006). Not only are people from Saudi Arabia portrayed as being suicide bombers, but also as, “oil millionaires buying up the United States” (Salem Press, 2006). Besides the belief that Arabs are oil-greedy, abductors of Western women, and radical extremists, their religion is also misconstrued. “Common misconceptions include the belief that all Arabs are Muslims” (Salem Press, 2006). One word: Mafia. This five-letter word is the basis of all stereotypes the world has about Italians. Most countries believe that all Italian families have ties to the Mob, or have engaged in criminal acts under the direction of the Mafia. Spoken from a true-blooded Italian, “The Mafia is real: we are not proud of it but it does exists, especially in the South and the island of Sicily. Obviously, not every Italian is a Mafioso and most will feel offended and insulted if you use the term, even when if you mean it as a joke” (Just Landed). A well-known generic stereotype of Italians is their high sense of fashion and ability to sport an extreme tan. “We are also fashion victims: you can recognize Italians by the way they dress from the head to feet (strictly black Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses;