Theme I & M
Does it make any difference what others think
and say about you?
• The effects of stereotyping
• To explore the relationships between
what is expected of us and how we behave
• To raise awareness of the effect
of our own behaviour on others
• To start discussion about the effects
of stereotyping people
Time: 45 minutes
• Plain white sticky labels about
5 cm by 2 cm one per person in the group.
• Write one characteristic on each
label e.g. irresponsible, witty, stupid, clever, clumsy
• Decide on a task for the group
e.g. design a poster co-operatively, plan an event, move
furniture or have a discussion (for example ask: 'if a big
name pop group could play in our town who would we want
1. Place one label on each player's forehead,
but don't let them know what's written on it.
2. Explain the task to the group. Make it
clear that as they undertake the task they must treat each
other according to the labels. For example, if someone has
a label - lazy - on their forehead everyone else must treat
them as if they are always lazy (but without ever using
the word on the label! Don't tell them!).
3. Players should put their efforts into
completing the task and treating the others according to
the stereotype on the label.
4. At the end of the activity players may
guess what their own label said, but this is not the main
object of the game.
Debriefing and evaluation
This is very important so make sure you
leave time for players to have their say. Start by asking
people if they could guess their label and then go on to
ask about the other aspects of the activity:
• How did each person feel during
• Was it difficult to treat people
according to their labels?
• Did anyone begin to 'prove'
their label i.e. did someone labelled 'witty' begin to tell
jokes and behave more confidently? Or the person labelled
'lazy' stop helping or participating?
• What sorts of labels do we
put on people in real life? How does it affect them and
how does it affect the way we think about them?
• In real life who, are given
some of the labels that you used in this activity?
• Are they valid?
Tips for the facilitator
Be sensitive about matching people with
characteristics. For example if a member of the group is
rather lazy it may not be appropriate to also give them
that label. The aim of the game is not bring out into the
open personal opinions about others in the group. Indeed
this could be very destructive and should be avoided.
Be aware that this game can raise powerful
Suggestions for follow up
Look again at who does what in your group
or organisation, try rotating the roles and responsibilities
and don't make assumptions about who is going to be good
at a particular job.
You might like to move on to the role play
activity 'In our block' and examine
a common problem caused by labelling and stereotyping and
to try to explore ways of finding an effective solution.
Alternatively, if you discussed the labels we put on the
refugees and immigrants who come to live in our communities
you may like to go on to use 'The refugee'
to find out more about the reality of their situation.
Labels affect both the way we see others
and the way we ourselves behave; they can lead to conflicts
between our professional and private lives. You can explore
this in therole-play, 'Can
I come in' in Compass about immigration officers
and refugees at a border post.
This activity is based on an idea found
in the Curriculum Resources Pack: Cultures and Lifestyles,
Dorset Education Service, Dorset, England.