I’ll start with a generalization myself – All of us generalize. And we do most of it without consciously knowing of it.
What we do is we take one person, incident, action and make it much bigger than it is.
- Person generalization : When we see a person, more often than not, our first impression of the person is based on a stereotype of that person’s community, looks etc. (More on stereotypes here). Think about it, don’t we all put people into general categories for our convenience? “A woman is driving that car, poor co-passengers, have to have a bad driver”
- Action generalization : When a person does an action once or maybe a few times, we tend to generalize by assigning that action to that person. “He always does this”. “She always says that”. Next time you make such a statement about someone, wait a second and think, does that person actually ALWAYS do that?
- Incident generalization: When an incident of the long past is remembered, usually the statement goes something like this, “Remember when we were there and we used to do such and such thing”. Wonderful, not that you are remembering, remember how many times did you do it, once, twice… because unless you did it more often than a few countable times, it doesn’t fit in the aforementioned statement.
And ya, all three of them can be positive as well as negative, no bars on that.
Here’s a funny statement one of my friends made when I was discussing generalizing with her. “I know all about it. I used to do it all the time. But now I have stopped doing it…………………. (irrelevant conversation)……… People around here as always gossiping about some relationship or the other, they never talk of anything else.”
Do I need point out the unconscious generalizations here?
Here’s a request to the readers- Don’t get defensive about yourselves and say either of the two : 1. you never do it OR 2. it’s okay as everyone is doing it. Sorry but we all do it, and it’s not OK. It’s not OK to judge me (anyone) before even getting to know me, or assign one action of mine to me forever and keep quoting it to me always or keep telling me that you used to do such and such things all the time. Let’s just try and not do it.
And before somebody jumps at me to say who am I to say that everyone does it, let me get one thing clear, I am a part of everyone. I too generalize and do it very often. But it’s also true that am trying to reduce that. *
* I made this note because there is “always” someone to point fingers like this. ( :p See, i generalize)
Take care. And think before you generalize the next time.