Investigating the Nature of Ethnocentric Attitudes in Western Countries

The concept of ethnocentrism was introduced by Ludwig Gumplowicz in the 1870s, popularised by William G. Sumner in the 1900s, and first investigated psychometrically by Theodore Adorno and colleagues in the 1940s. Over time, it has become a fundamental concept in the social sciences, but over the last several decades its popularity and usage have decreased.

Recent events, such as the growing popularity of ethno-nationalist and populist leaders, show that ethnocentrism as a phenomenon has been resurging around the world. In this seminar, I will present studies from a recent research programme, as reported in my book Ethnocentrism: Integrated Perspectives (Bizumic, 2019), which aims to reinvigorate the concept of ethnocentrism in the social sciences by clarifying its structure, causes, and consequences. I will present the results of a series of studies that used several versions of two recently developed scales of ethnocentrism in numerous samples (approximately 7,000 participants) from primarily Western countries (mainly from Australia and the US).

Using factor analytic and correlational techniques, I will present the relationships between the six dimensions of ethnocentric attitudes (devotion, group cohesion, preference, superiority, purity, and exploitativeness), and their relationships with proposed causes and consequences. These findings show that ethnocentrism has multiple origins, such as values, personality, morality, ideology, and social factors, and consequences, such as prejudice, discrimination, and political support for leaders and policies. The findings in general suggest that ethnocentrism is overwhelmingly concerned with the need to strengthen one’s own ethnic group at the expense of anyone who and anything that can weaken it.