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An attitude of superiority about the ethnic group with which one is identified.

Ethnocentrism is a general belief that the ethnic group with which an individual is identified is superior to all other ethnic groups. Consequently, the individual persistently uses membership in the ethnic group as a primary criterion in the formation of relationships with others, and in evaluating or making judgments concerning other individuals. The term sociocentrism is sometimes used as a synonym of the term ethnocentrism, although sociocentrism is defined more narrowly. Sociocentrism involves the smaller social group rather than the larger ethnic group of the individual. Ethnic groups consist of individuals who are bound together, often closely, by a shared cultural structure and sense of ethnic identity. The central and defining feature of an ethnic group may be racial, religious, geopolitical, linguistic, traditional, tribal, or some combination of these or other characteristics. An ethnic group may be a majority or a minority of a population, and may be relatively dominant or powerless in a society. In varying degrees, ethnocentrism is an attribute of ethnic groups, past and present, throughout the world. The ethnocentric view that other ethnic groups and their members are inferior may be expressed in a number of ways: for example, through prejudice, paternalism, contempt, or hate crimes or other acts of violence.

Further Reading

Forbes, H. D. Nationalism, Ethnocentrism, and Personality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Dictionary: Kenneth John William Craik Biography to Jami (Mulla Nuruddin ʼAbdurrahman ibn-Ahmad Biography