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Ethnocentrism leads us to make false assumptions about cultural differences. We are ethnocentric when we use our cultural norms to make generalizations about other peoples' cultures and customs. Such generalizations -- often made without a conscious awareness that we've used our culture as a universal yardstick -- can be way off base and cause us to misjudge other peoples. Ethnocentrism can lead to cultural misinterpretation and it often distorts communication between human beings.
Ethnocentrism leads us to make premature judgments.
"They" may not be very good at what we are best at.
By evaluating "them" by what we are best at, we miss the many other aspects of life that they often handle more competently than we do.
We often talk about British drivers driving "on the wrong side" of the road. Why not just say "opposite side" or even "left hand side"?
We talk about written Hebrew as reading "backward." Why not just say "from right to left" or "in the opposite direction from English."
We encourage SNU students going on short-term missions to use the phrase "Oh, that's different" rather than more pejorative terms when encountering strange customs or foods.
The opposite of ethnocentrism is xenocentrism. Xenocentrism means preferring ideas and things from other cultures over ideas and things from your own culture. At the heart of xenocentrism is an assumption (conscious or unconscious) that other cultures are superior to your own.Links to other Internet information on ethnocentrism
|Did you know there is more than one way to describe a lightbulb? What we call it depends on our point of view. [ read more ]|
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