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21 Examples of Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is the evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating one's own culture. This may also involve looking at all or most things as issues of identity where other explanations may be more accurate. Ethnocentrism is a bias such that it produces irrational thoughts, poor results and discrimination. The following are illustrative examples of ethnocentrism.

Cultural Bias

Viewing elements of your own culture as concrete and rational and elements of other cultures as absurd and wrong. For example, viewing food from your own culture as civilized and food from another as barbaric without any rational explanation based on objective reason.

Ingroup Bias

Having an unrealistically positive view of people who are exactly like you. For example, blindly trusting a politician because they look and talk like you despite signs they are corrupt.

Ascribed Status

Ascribed status is social status that results from involuntary aspects of your identity such as your nationality, race and age. It is a hallmark of ethnocentrism to be excessively focused on ascribed status despite the fact that this isn't based on individual talent, effort, character or experience.

Illusion of Superiority

Illusion of superiority is a misguided feeling that you are superior to others. This can be based on ascribed status and an ethnocentric view of the world.

Outgroup Bias

Having an unrealistically negative view of people who you perceive as dissimilar to you. For example, a landlord who rejects a tenant who is demonstrably financially secure and responsible due to discrimination against some aspect of the person's identity.

Bias Blind Spot

Viewing others as biased but being unable to see your own biases. It is common for individuals to be unable to see their own ingroup and outgroup biases.

Naive Realism

Naive realism is the belief that all information can be directly sensed. For example, the mistaken belief that you can understand everything about a person by looking at them.

False Consensus Effect

The belief that people agree with you more than they really do. For example, the belief that everyone in your ingroup think the same when in fact this is far from reality. For example, underestimating the capacity of your ingroup to accept, empathize and cooperate with outgroups.

False Dilemma

A false dilemma is the incorrect assertion that two things are mutually exclusive. For example, presenting everything as a competition between your ingroup and all outgroups when cooperation is more likely to produce positive results.

Status Quo Bias

A preference for things to stay the same despite clear evidence this isn't possible or desirable. This is related to ethnocentrism because cultural interactions are increasing as the world gets smaller due to factors such as technology and cooperation between nations. People with a strong sense of ethnocentrism tend to dislike this sort of change, even where it has many advantages.


The belief that your nation, race or culture is exceptional in some way. This is often unrealistic. For example, the belief that a particular nation is the only society that offers rights and freedoms when other nations have similar or more protections for these things.

Hasty Generalization

Hasty generalization is the dangerous practice of creating a general rule from a small sample. Ethnocentrism can lead to the odd situation where an individual thinks they know everything about an outgroup based on an extremely small number of superficial encounters.


Labeling is the practice of categorizing concepts, things and people using overly simplistic labels. This is a tool of ethnocentrism as a means for trying to figure out who is a member of the same groups.


The process of assigning characteristics to your labels. For example, "people from this country are like this ...."


Superstition can play a role in ethnocentrism. For example, a nation or culture that views itself as destined for greatness based on some myth or magical thinking.

Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

The unfounded belief that you understand other people better than they understand you. For example, the belief that your understand outgroups but that these outgroups don't understand your ingroup.

Mere Exposure Effect

The mere exposure effect is a tendency for an individual to adopt a more favorable view of something that they have experienced before. This may suggest that tendencies towards ethnocentrism, particularly outgroup bias, can be reduced with cultural interaction. For example, positive shared experiences that result from working and studying in a diverse environment.

Group Attribution Error

The group attribution error is a tendency to incorrectly attribute things to groups as opposed to individuals. For example, the belief that someone is a bad driver because of some aspect of their identity when in fact this is a trait that is more accurately attributed to an individual.

Group Narcissism

Group narcissism is a tendency for groups to demonstrate vanity, an irrational sense of superiority, selfishness, a lack of empathy, a need for admiration and a sense of entitlement. As with individual narcissism, this doesn't tend to work out very well as it leads to suboptimal strategy and behavior.


Countersignaling is pretending to be humble in order to promote yourself. In the context of ethnocentrism, this would involve disparaging your ingroup to secretly signal a strength such as virtue or confidence.

Sour Grapes

Sour grapes is the act of construing the successes of others as being undesirable to reduce negative feelings such as jealously. For example, disparaging the accomplishments of an outgroup to make yourself feel better about your ingroup.


The opposite of ethnocentrism is objective thinking whereby you evaluate each society, culture and individual based on their unique characteristics without bias.
Cultural relativism is not the opposite of ethnocentrism because this rejects the very idea of objective reason and therefore resembles a cognitive bias itself.
Overview: Ethnocentrism
Definition (1)
The evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating one's own culture.
Definition (2)
Viewing all or most things as issues of identity where other explanations may be more accurate.
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