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Personality Research articles on personality


Nationalism, Ethnocentrism, Tribalism in Modernity

Historically, I've had difficulty placing political orientation in the personality space. The global traits I was measuring, which were designed to pick up most any personality variable to various degrees were not finding much correlation to political leanings. Initially, I assumed it was just a limitation of personality measurement, that politics was too variable, or maybe too weak to be measured. In the advent of Brexit and Trump, I focused more on the question and found a trait I overlooked that significantly explained political orientations, ethnocentrism. And as I researched more I found I was not the only one that has made the link.[1][2][3][4][5]

Ethnocentrism is defined as the belief in the inherent superiority of one's ethnic culture or group. White nationalists or German National Socialists obviously are ethnocentrics. And most agree, they are pariahs. But based on my research, even ideological nationalists ('England first', 'America first') tend to score very high on ethnocentrcism. So while English Brexit supporters and American Trump supporters are pushing the narrative that racism has nothing to do with the nationalism they are pushing, the data shows otherwise. That's not to say there are not individual Brexit or Trump supporters that consciously reject racism, but most people that self rate highly on being nationalistic, self rate more highly than average on items related to racial prejudice (although they would likely rationalize those sentiments in various ways because few want to admit to something society has agreed is unacceptable).

Attempting to not just focus on the legitimate historical negative stigma and clinically look at what ethnocentrism is, I think it's basically tribalism. It's a personality driver that humans operated under for much of our history. Humans lived in small bands of blood relations and foreign tribes were possibly more of a threat than a positive. And thus tribes that were able to see outsiders in what we would now consider sociopathic ways, probably had a survival advantage. To be able to warmly nurture, prioritize the in group and coldly dehumanize, kill the outgroup was evolutionary rewarded. But just as humans have evolved and changed so has our social architecture/orientation. The variables of our prehistoric roots have significantly changed. We don't live in small disconnected bands. At some point in human history foreign tribes became possible trading partners. I would argue slowly the advantages of seeing more positives, cooperating (vs seeing more negatives, fighting with) outgroups have become greater, and the disadvantages fewer. As a result, we are increasingly interconnected. We now have a world where international trade and diplomacy are far more significant, and representative of human culture than tribal warfare (although we still have too much of the latter).

Even if you don't agree with the natural evolution of cooperation between outgroups, the other argument for adapting to cooperation is the reality of the nuclear threat. Modern weapons are not compatible to our primitive warfare tendencies. So if humans don't adapt to a different behavioral set than the survival of everyone is threatened. If you subscribe to in group / out group thinking, and believe your group is going to control all the nuclear weapons and successfully contain, oppress, eradicate all your out groups, you are operating with an ancient mindset that doesn't match present realities / probabilities.

Like every personality variable, ethnocentrism is a spectrum. I think high ethnocentrism is primitive and dangerous and in fact those that score highly as a group, based on my research, are more likely to have lower Vitality scores (which means higher incidence of depression, health issues, suicidal ideation). However, low ethnocentrism might be another extreme that has it's own negative issues. My research suggests the those that score in the middle on this trait have the highest self rated health scores.

Personality items that correlate highly with ethnocentrism

My country cannot absorb any more immigrants from certain ethnic groups without causing problems. 794
Foreign workers and asylum seekers can be a problem for my country. 749 1.43
I have a certain amount of dislike towards foreigners. 715
Other cultures should try to be more like my culture. 708
Minority groups have too much power in my country. 707
Ethnic profiling is sometimes acceptable. 705 1.35
My culture should be the role model for other cultures. 700
Racial profiling is sometimes acceptable. 686 1.17
Minority groups having too much power in my country can be a problem. 676 1.48
People that don't integrate into my country, should leave. 669
Multi-culturalism is dangerous. 668 .97
Most people from other cultures just don't know what's good for them. 666
Most other cultures are backward compared to my culture. 661
I have little desire to interact with immigrants. 660
Lifestyles in other cultures are not as valid as those in my culture. 655
Other cultures are smart to look up to my culture. 641
People that can't contribute to my country tend to be a liability. 640 1.55
Foreign aid is a waste of my countries resources. 638 1.29
Ethnic profiling is sometimes necessary. 637 1.60
People in my culture have a better lifestyle than other cultures. 628 1.53
Liberal ideology is, fundamentally, an insult to the strong. 619 1.23
People that can't contribute to my country shouldn't be citizens. 618 1.41
My country should be independent not interdependent. 617 1.99
Religious or ethnic sects who refuse to integrate into my country bother me. 612 1.42
I favor leaders that put my culture first. 602 1.39
A lack of nationalism will destroy a country. 601 1.89
Countries should be independent not interdependent. 601 1.88
A nation's population having different cultures results in a loss of national identity. 600 1.12
My country should only have one official language. 595 1.41
People in other cultures could learn a lot from people in my culture. 593 1.6
Without patriotism, you have no local culture. 589 1.27
The main threat to my country's basic institutions during this century have come from the infiltration of foreign ideas, doctrines, and agitators. 587 1.21
I want immigration law enforced. 586 1.55
Diversity is dangerous. 582 .94
The welfare of my country comes before the welfare of the world. 582 1.63
Ethnic profiling is acceptable. 581 1.19
I tend to be less trusting of foreigners. 577 1.34
Not all cultures are equal. 1.63
The concept of taking our country back appeals to me. 575
Sometimes the weak in a country need to be left behind. 565 1.10
If a person won't fight for his country, he deserves a lot worse than just a prison or a work camp. 561 .63
Religious sects whose beliefs do not permit them to salute the flag should be monitored. 561 1.07
I would prefer to live around people that share my culture. 560 1.98
I believe in conservative fiscal policies. 556 1.54
I prioritize the welfare of the people within my country above that of other countries. 555 1.77
There will always be superior and inferior nations in the world and in the interests of all concerned, it is best that the superior ones be in control of world affairs. 555 1.42
I am politically conservative. 543
Things work best when every nation looks out for its own interests. 537 1.37
I prefer social uniformity to social diversity. 530 1.06
We are spending too much money for the pampering of criminals and the insane, and for the education of inherently incapable people. 527 1.44
Punishment should be a big part of the criminal justice system. 522 2.24
I dislike cultural change. 522 1.48
A homogeneous community is stronger than a diverse one. 520 135
Immigration should be decreased. 515
We can't solve world poverty by importing it. 512 2.35
I prefer politicians who take charge, set rules, and crush dissent. 511 1.48
I do not trust people who are different. 510 1.12
Without patriotism, local culture is limited. 508
Those that don't contribute to my country make bad citizens. 508 1.58
I disfavor people who pander to minorities. 507 1.73
People in my culture have just about the best lifestyles of anywhere. 505
I value conservative fiscal policies. 501
It's not racist to want to preserve your own culture. 501 2.57
People that deviate from traditional gender roles bother me. 497
People are happier being with their own ethnicity. 496 1.52
I would like my people to be the majority in any community I reside in. 496
People that do wrong need punishment more than they need reform. 493 1.53
People are happier being with their own tribe. 492 2.20
I consider myself to be a descendant of a superior culture. 491
Nationalism is a good thing. 491 1.82
The majority group should have more rights than minority groups. 491
I care more about my tribe than other tribes. 486
Integration is not necessarily better than segregation. 486
Foreigners should not be allowed to put their products in our markets. 485 .63
It is important that foreigners integrate into the main culture of my country. 484
Not all countries are equal. 480 2.61
Although women are necessary sometimes in the armed forces and in industry, they should be returned to their proper place in the home as soon as that need ends. 470 .58
Other cultures are lacking. 467
I'm more likely to marry someone of my race. 463 2.16
Private companies should be able to discriminate against any group of people they don't like. 461 .81
I'm more likely to marry someone from my culture. 460 2.09
National identity is all that matters. 460 .77
The most important quality in a leader is strength. 456 1.98
The most important thing for the stability of a country is a strong leader. 455 2.25
People are happier being with their own race. 450 1.51
I dislike liberals. 456
I enjoy a good ethnic joke among friends. 450
When you move to a new country, you need to abandon the ways of your old one. 449 1.38
An organization like the United Nations is not good for the world. 445 1.15
I hate hearing people talk shit about my country. 445 1.90
Socialism doesn't work. 442 1.94
A military background is always a good thing. 442
I would not want to adopt a different culture. 440
I'm more likely to marry someone of my ethnicity. 430 2.17
I dislike affirmitive action. 429
There will always be wars because, for one thing, there will always be cultures who ruthlessly try to grab more than their share. 429 2.60
Politicians that pander to minorities bother me. 422
Punishment should be the biggest part of the criminal justice system. 420 1.75
Globalism is not a good thing. 418
I'm unlikely to marry someone of a different culture/ethnicity. 417
I am not interested in other cultures. 416
We should buy from foreign countries only those products that we cannot obtain within our own country. 411 2.07
Rallying against an external enemy makes a country stronger. 406 1.71
Transexuality makes no sense to me. 405
The welfare of my culture comes before the welfare of the world. 405 1.36
I can hardly imagine myself marrying someone of a different culture/ethnicity. 409
I don't believe in climate change. 398 .67
My country cares more about external problems than internal problems. 395 1.98
It's important that everyone in my country shares the same values. 395 1.43
A woman changing her last name to her husbands makes a lot of sense to me. 395 1.89
People like being with their own tribe. 394 2.57
I tend to think affirmative action is not fair. 394 1.80
Physically punishing a misbehaving child is not child abuse. 385 1.55
War is an inevitable outgrowth of human nature. 384 2.07
Most of our social problems would be solved if we could somehow get rid of the immoral, crooked, and feebleminded people. 383 2.06
A person who has bad manners, habits, and breeding can hardly expect to get along with decent people. 383 2.18
I believe that the universe is ordered in a hierarchical structure. 373 1.78
Throwing the world's cultures into a blender does not create diversity. 367 2.17
My country is straying from the true way. 365
Imports should be limited. 364 1.54
The world would be much better off with many separate nations than a single unified global nation. 363 1.94
People are happier being with their own culture. 361 2.18
Improving the rest of the world at the expense of one's countrymen is wrong. 353 2.10
Groups of people or nations who didn't care about their people more were replaced by those who did. 352 1.89
I'm skeptical that humans are responsible for climate change. 345 1.21
Free trade is a bad idea for my country. 334 1.41
What my country needs most, more than laws and political programs, is a few courageous, tireless, devoted leaders in whom the people can put their faith. 348
I hate seeing someone who's worked hard their whole life be told that their success means less because they were 'privileged'. 327 2.58
A strong central authority is important to make a civilization function. 317 2.06
A government should always put it's citizen's first. 317 3.06
I prefer to purchase products made in my country. 302 1.61
My country is getting so far from the true way of life that force may be necessary to restore it. 297

Low ethnocentrism items

My country should accept the cultures of immigrants. -754 2.71
My country should tolerate the cultures of immigrants. -704 2.79
My country should be willing to accept the cultures of immigrants. -672 2.67
My country should support the cultures of immigrants. -620 2.51
I am politically liberal. -508 2.35
Racial profiling is wrong. -437 2.91
International integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture is a good thing. -426 2.85
I support a higher minimum wage. -336

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