Ethnocentrism refers to a general predisposition that categorizes social life into in-groups and out-groups. It is a pervasive readiness to associate desirable qualities with in-groups. Ethnocentrism also involves a generalized hostility toward a broad range of out-groups. Recent scholarship empirically shows that ethnocentrism strongly predicts a wide array of public opinion dynamics. This entry provides an early definition and different conceptualizations of ethnocentrism, its causes, a summary of measurement strategies, and its relationship with public opinion.

Early Definitions

Anthropologist William John McGee used the term ethnocentrism for the first time in 1900 to describe characteristics of nonindustrial societies. He associated ethnocentrism with prevalent egocentrism among ethnic groups in nonindustrial societies. McGee’s work had little impact on the scientific study of ethnocentrism. It was not until William ...

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