What Are Some Positive and Negative Aspects of Ethnocentrism?

A negative aspect of ethnocentrism is the false notion that one’s culture is more superior to others. This perception deepens inhumane behavior because of cultural misinterpretation, ethnic and racial prejudices, and mistrust brought about by ethnocentrism. A positive aspect of ethnocentrism centers on protection. People of the same culture can preserve their traditions, customs and practices by rejecting those cultures that are different from theirs. Ethnocentrism also helps maintain the uniqueness and authenticity of a culture.

Ethnocentric people tend to look down on those people who are of a different ethnic group. They make premature judgments and wrong assumptions because they believe other cultures are inferior to theirs. It is difficult for ethnocentric people to assimilate the beliefs, practices, traditions and customs of other cultures.

Ethnocentrism fosters conflict, distorts communication, and creates suspicion and antagonism between people. It prevents people of a particular culture from appreciating and understanding other people’s cultures. For example, conservative Muslims find European women to be extremely immodest and unchaste because they do not cover their bodies from head to toe when in public. On the other hand, Europeans condemn societies that eat dogs or practice polygamy.

Ethnocentrism can lead to serious social issues, such as colonialism, racism and ethnic cleansing.