Friday, May 14, 2010

Ethnocentrism and feelings toward the outgroup


General Social Survey respondents were asked: "When you think about yourself, how important is your ethnic group membership to your sense of who you are?"  The table shows the correlations between the answer to this question and the answer about the degree to which the respondents feel warmth toward a specified group. For example, the top correlation shows that the more a Jewish person feels that his ethnicity is important, the cooler he feels toward whites. 

I listed the correlations in descending order. The bottom one--.06--is the only one indicating a positive association: Mexican Americans who think their ethnicity is important are slightly more likely to feel warm toward whites. 

For most groups, ethnocentrism predicts (weakly) coolness toward the outgroup. This is true of all white groups. Black ethnocentrism, on the other hand, is unrelated to feelings toward whites and Mexican-Americans. 

With the noted exceptions, the correlations contradict my sociology professor who claimed that, as America becomes a truly multicultural country, it will be as warm and peaceful as diverse Switzerland.  

At first glance, it might seem like ethnocentricity among minorities doesn't lead to anti-outgroup feelings, and while the data indicate that might be true for blacks and Hispanics, the tendency among Jews is the strongest on the list.  

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its a bit suprising that a subset of Jews feel cooler towards whites than blacks here in America.

Wouldn't have guessed that.

Anonymous said...

"Its a bit suprising that a subset of Jews feel cooler towards whites than blacks here in America.

Wouldn't have guessed that."

That's not necessarily true.

Anonymous said...

What are the characteristics of the most ethnocentric subset of Jews? Are they disproportionately orthodox/observant, big-city dwellers who live in a Jewish bubble, Holocaust survivors and/or their children, etc.? Data along these lines might offer clues about negative feelings towards other groups.

Anonymous said...

I think most readers will misunderstand this post as indicating that Jews have negative feelings toward others when in fact they were asked two separate questions, one about how important their Jewishness is and the other what they must have regarded as a racist question along the lines of how warm do you feel about whites.

Anyhow, the data DOES demonstrate something but not what many readers' confirmation bias is likely to have them conclude without greater reflection.

Steve N said...

So just how diverse is Switzerland?

Anonymous said...

they were asked two separate questions, one about how important their Jewishness is and the other what they must have regarded as a racist question along the lines of how warm do you feel about whites.




Blacks and Hispanics don't seem to have viewed the question as racist. So why would Jews?

SFG said...

Look up Jews and Germans. I bet that one's off the charts.