Eesti Elu
What occurs when Russians and Estonians interact? Estonian Life
Arvamus 22 Oct 2016 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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Laas Leivat
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Certain stereotypical behaviour has been known for a long time: The Estonian is silent and listens to the Russian, be the latter from Tallinn or St. Petersburg. But both Estonians and Russians favour those with whom they communicate to be friendly, to be worldly wise, and to be outgoing.
These are the stereotypes of individuals in interaction as discovered by a team of Tartu University psychologists in a study of Estonians in Estonia and Russians both in Narva and St. Petersburg in 2013. In general, national stereotypes derive from perceptions of character traits. Thus Estonians value highly people who are industrious, honest, calm and unpretentious. One must understand that stereotypes are influenced by politics and economics. Neighbours are usually described with opposite traits, as reverse images in a mirror.
Stereotypes of interacting indivduals help to create an image of communications styles of particular cultures. Scholars are interested in how Estonians and Russians perceive themselves and what sort of traits are common to the neighbouring culture. In addition they also want to understand what is considered to be the ideal comunicator for each culture.
While data exists for communication behaviour of Estonians and Finns, the stereotype of the Estonian interacting had not yet been studied. On both sides of the Bay of Finland, contrariness is seen as the common trait in social conversation. Russians are seen as impulsive.
The researchers expected that Estonians would favour calmness and the Russians openess in communication. It was assumed then that Estonians would be seen as calm and Russians ebullient, both by the Russians and Estonians.
The research involved 281 Russian and Estonian respondents, including 54 exchange students from St. Petersburg. Participants had to characterize the communications styles of various ethnic cultures and choose between pairs of antinoms that word that best describes the mannerisms of the ideal communicator. The subjects also described their own personal choice of an ideal communicator.
Estonians considered themselves as reserved, unpretentious, tranquil. They considered Russians to be emotional, open, talkative and friendly. Russians drew the same profile of themselves, with one exception. One would predict that Russians in Estonia would be described as more like Estonians, but it was unexpected that Russians of Russia are the ones describing themselves as reticent and not ready to strike up friendships, similar to Estonians. This may be the intention of Russians in Estonia attempting to be perceived as a contrast to Estonians. (Pikemalt Eesti Elu 21. okt. paberlehest)
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