Overcoming Ethnocentrism

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Human Communication. A Publication of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association. Vol. 11, No.1, pp. 27 – 38

Overcoming Ethnocentrism through Developing Intercultural Communication Sensitivity and Multiculturalism

Qingwen Dong University of the Pacific Kenneth D. Day University of the Pacific Christine M. Collaço University of the Pacific

Qingwen Dong (Ph.D. Washington State University, 1995) is Associate Professor and Chair and Kenneth D. Day (Ph.D. Indiana University, 1980) is Professor in the Department of Communication, University of the Pacific where Christine M. Collaço is working on her graduate degree. Please direct all correspondence to the first author at Department of Communication, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA 95211, USA; email:qdong@pacific.edu; Phone: (209) 946-3044.

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Overcoming Ethnocentrism

Abstract This study, based on a survey of 419 young adults, found that high levels of individuals’ intercultural communication sensitivity and multiculturalism are significant predictors of reducing individuals’ ethnocentrism. As a leading country in diversity, equality and democracy, the United States is expected to continue its leading position in appreciating cultural diversity and respecting ethnic/cultural identities. The results suggest that promoting intercultural communication sensitivity and multiculturalism is a possible measure to overcome ethnocentrism and reduce conflicts among intergroup interactions. Limitations and suggestions for future research are provided.

Qingwen Dong, Kenneth D. Day and Christine M. Collaço

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Introduction The United States is a country of immigrants and it is critical for the country to promote cultural diversity and appreciate different cultural heritages (Dong, 1995). Ethnocentrism is viewed as lacking acceptance of cultural diversity and intolerance for outgroups (Berry & Kalin, 1995). This lack of acceptance of cultural diversity has a strong tendency to lead to negative stereotypes toward other cultural/ethnic groups, negative prejudice and negative behaviors against these group members. As the world becomes a global village and more and more people with diverse cultural backgrounds interact with each other constantly, it is imperative to investigate what factors could help overcome ethnocentrism. This study, by examining two of these factors, hopes to identify a better route to look for ways and means to overcome people’s ethnocentrism. Reducing ethnocentrism would greatly facilitate accommodating diversity in the United States, making it a model country for diversity, equality and democracy. In this study, the authors focus on three constructs: ethnocentrism, intercultural communication sensitivity, and multiculturalism. Research has shown that ethnocentrism tends to be negatively correlated with intercultural communication sensitivity and cultural diversity. In order to explore ways to overcome ethnocentrism, the study has three major objectives. First, it examines the impact of intercultural communication sensitivity on overcoming ethnocentrism. Second it investigates the impact of multiculturalism on overcoming ethnocentrism. Third, it proposes some measures for researchers, policy makers, and educators to use in overcoming ethnocentrism. Literature Review Ethnocentrism The theoretical concept of ethnocentrism, as developed by Sumner (1906), suggested that in most intergroup contexts, one’s own group is the center of everything, and all other things are related to or dependent on it. Berry and Kalin (1995) pointed out that the ethnocentrism concept tends to be viewed as “the synonym for general antipathy towards all outgroups” (p. 303). The two Canadian scholars conducted numerous studies on this topic and observed that ethnocentrism shows that “a lack of acceptance of cultural diversity, a general intolerance for outgroups and a relative preference for one’s ingroup over most outgroups” (p. 303). Neuliep and McCroskey (1997)...
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