Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ethnocentrism might rise with age

Steve Sailer asks: "Is there anyway to look at cohorts over time to see if ethnocentrism increases with age? I suspect ethnocentrism sets in more when you start thinking about grandchildren, but that's just a guess."

The GSS question on one's closeness to his ethnic group (ETHCLOSE) was asked in 1996 and 2004. I calculated the mean score for all whites in their 50s in 1996 and got 2.84. Next, I computed the mean for people ages 58-67 in 2004 (since the earlier group had aged 8 years). Their mean is 3.12, almost one-third of a standard deviation higher. The difference is not quite significant at the two-tailed 95% confidence level, but the small samples (143 and 137) do not help.

I take this as evidence that Steve is right: tribalism rises as you reach the age when grandchildren are in your thoughts.  

9 comments:

Outland said...

In that case: is ethnocentrism driven by hormones?

The Undiscovered Jew said...

In that case: is ethnocentrism driven by hormones?

Ethnocentrism expresses itself differently by circumstance thus making it harder to measure. Certain circumstances could suppress ethnocentrism.

The Irish were much more overtly ethnocentric when they were fighting against England for independence than they are today because they were being occupied by a foreign power.

Outland said...

TUJ,

Agreed. But I was thinking along the line of stress hormone levels, these increase greatly during fear and can change behavior. Women who experience a lot of fear during pregnancy rear babies who will cry a lot. Just a thought anyway. Some hormone levels, like testosterone (in men anyway), change with age.

And it makes sense that the Irish became more ethnocentric during foreign occupation. Robert Pape has documented that there's no bigger radicilizing force than the occupation of a foreign power. Nothing correlates more with suicide killings than this. He also showed that after the occupation ends, suicide killings decrease directly.

So, what pushes these suicide killers over the edge? The sheer madness of psychopathological personality, rational thought processes or a biochemical reaction in our bodies to an outside stressful event? (I'm way over my head here, but curious anyway.)

Phoenixism said...

In this day and age when grandchildren by and large are representing greater and greater spans of ethnic constituencies??

Old age, yes, I agree based on field observations; grandchildren? Not so sure.

You realize elderly people have a lot more going on that just grandkids.

Or it just might be creeping senility.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Agreed. But I was thinking along the line of stress hormone levels, these increase greatly during fear and can change behavior. Women who experience a lot of fear during pregnancy rear babies who will cry a lot.

It's clear why stress and war/hard times/danger would correlate with an increase in ethnocentrism and peace/prosperity/safety would negatively correlate with overt expressions of ethnocentrism.

For example, German, Italian and Spanish nationalism didn't really exist until after those regions were occupied by Napoleonic France (prior to the rise of nationalism in the 19th century, European conservatism was Aristocratic/Monarchist, not nationalistic).

Just a thought anyway. Some hormone levels, like testosterone (in men anyway), change with age.

Testosterone decreases with age, so one would expect young men to be more ethnocentric than their elders, but again, ethnocentrism appears to express itself in highly variable ways depending on surrounding social/political environment.

Mike said...

What's the benefit of ethnocentrism in the elderly compared to the young. Why do the young care less about their genes linking up with someone outside their ethnicity that the elderly? Is it more likely for an old person to see his genes propagated by his children and grandchildren engaging in in-group mating rather than by mating with people outside the group, and the young are better served by spreading their seed wherever they can?

Why not ethnocentrism for your daughters and granddaughters, and a positive view to your males mating with women from other groups?

The Undiscovered Jew said...

One general point about ethnocentrism,

Intelligence and personality are much less responsive to shifts in the environment and "nurture" than behavior is.

Behavior can be modified by social policy without changing the underlying genes for behavior.

But personality and intelligence cannot be changed too much.

In particular, pyschologists believe it is extremely dangerous to try and alter personality.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Reform and non-affiliated Jews are most likely to feel warmth towards other ethnic groups (including non-Jewish whites) than Conservative and Orthodox.

Look at the variables Jew(1-4)

and

FEELWHTS FEELBLKS FEELHSPS FEELASNS

Anonymous said...

Perhaps people become more ethnocentric over time because, over a long time period, they've been exposed to the realities of human nature. They see that human nature aggregates people into ethnic groups, and in those groups people feel an in-group affiliation. They see that this won't change any time soon, so they decide to go along with it. Older people are probably more skeptical than the young about a great many projects to reform human nature, or at least, they should be.