Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism in group and out group | MCAT | Khan Academy

Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism in group and out group | MCAT | Khan Academy


– [Voiceover] Okay, so you
go over to a friend’s house and you get served up a plate
of crispy fried insects. How do you respond to this? How you respond really depends on whether you normally eat crispy
fried insects or not. Is it part of your
culture to have this dish? If it isn’t, let us think of the different ways in which you can react. One of the ways you can react is to say, “Oh, my gosh, this is disgusting! “This is wrong, I don’t want
anything to do with this.” One of the things that we’re doing here is that we’re judging
your friend’s culture from the position of your own culture. What’s the alternative way that we can actually judge a situation? One of the other things we can say is, “Yeah, you know what? “I can see why he likes this dish.” It might not be for me, but I can see why he likes it. What are we doing here? We are actually, again,
assessing and judging our friend’s culture, but
from a different viewpoint. We’re judging and
understanding their culture from within their culture. These different perspectives outlined … That’s why I drew this semicircle that you can see here, because, really, how we
view these fried insects, how we view them is down to our own, the kind of cultural
perspective that we take. These different cultural perspectives actually have their own terms. One term that I want, if we’re going to judge
another person’s culture from our own culture, and really say things
like, this is disgusting, this is right or this is wrong, whether it’s to do with food, religion, politics, or any customs or
rituals, or anything else, what we’re doing is we’re
becoming very ethnocentric. What being ethnocentric means is that we are really
judging our own culture to be superior to that of others. On the opposite side, as we start to look at cultural events, whether it’s the food or
any other cultural event, or cultural phenomenon, from a perspective of the other person’s culture, we start to move into the concept of cultural relativism. What cultural relativism means, is that there’s no right,
absolute right or wrong, but we have different cultures who are themselves valid. Cultural relativism can somewhat falter if someone uses it to conduct activities that really violate the rights and dignity of our fellow human beings, no matter what culture
they are in or from. That’s something important
for us to also consider. Now, based on our insect dish, I want to talk to you a
little bit about groups. What I want to do is talk to you about groups by mentioning … I want to talk to you about groups and how groups are formed. So, let us take this
first group over here. This group will think
that insects are pests and they’re not to be eaten. Let’s draw a few different people that could be part of this group. The second group really
thinks of insects as dinner. Let’s draw a few of them over here. The reason why groups form is that people within groups share some kind of psychological
connection with their peers, so that could be related to
their love of insect dishes or it could be related to politics, it could be related to spirituality, any other cultural issues. It could relate to
anything at all, in fact. Let us label these groups. If we are actually in
this group ourselves, let’s label this “Us” and let’s label the dinner group “Them.” Let’s use some more formal titles. Instead of saying “Us” we can actually refer to this as the “in” group, the group that we are in, and the group that we are
kind of psychologically most connected with. “Them” becomes something
called the “out” group. What we know is that
people in the “in” group demonstrate a lot stronger interactions than people who are in the “out” group, then their interactions
with people who are in a different, in the “out,” so these interactions are weaker. The other thing is that not only are these interactions stronger, or more common, but they may potentially be
more influential as well. But certain funny things can
kind of happen in groups. One of the things that can happen is we can have something happen called in group favoritism. What do I mean by that? In in group favoritism, we tend to favor people who are in our group, who share whatever this
psychological attribute is that we feel connected to. In this circumstance, we are very friendly towards the people in our “in” group. But what about the people outside? What about the “Them,” the “out” group? What do we do towards them? With the people in the “out” group, we are actually dead set neutral. We don’t extend them the favor. We don’t go out of our way to help. We’re not nasty or horrible or unkind, we just don’t give them the favors that we do to our “in” group. Now, there’s another phenomenon where we might be a little bit
nastier to the “out” group, and that’s called out group derogation. In out group derogation what we find is that, again, we are super-friendly and super-nice to our “in” group, but when it comes to the “out” group, we are not so friendly. We’re actually mean. We might actually discriminate. This tends to happen, out group derogation can actually happen if we feel that the “out” group is in some way threatening to undermine or stop our “in” group from achieving success. One last thing I wanted to mention is the idea of group polarization. This is a phenomenon where the decision-making
machine, that is the group, makes decisions that are more extreme than any of the individual members would be inclined to make. The group’s opinions and actions and decision-making may actually become more extreme than what their
individual members wanted. This can effectively turbo charge any of these other
processes that are going on, and also turbo charge
the groups’ viewpoints. For example, if the group
thinks insects are pests, are they going to set
up a fumigation society for the local neighborhood? I mean, I’m saying that in jest, but, you know, I hope the point is made.

12 thoughts on “Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism in group and out group | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. Universal human rights (pretty much a western concept) can seem ethnocentric, at this moment in time people are hyper sensitive to difference in anything other than western culture. Both sides ethnocentricity and relativistic are in danger of not striving for universal but ethnocentrism can be entirely right about ideal universals, whereas relativism is stagnant and an ethic predisposed to the bigotry of absolutely no expectations. Instead of using a bowl of insects try putting honour killing in place and see how it all works out.

  2. How can you see why your friend would like eating insects if you think they are disgusting…This is ridiculous. Why not just be honest with yourself and your friend and say "no thank you" but thanks for offering it. There's nothing wrong with thinking something about another culture is gross as long as you don't think that they are lesser people for being different. Mind gymnastics is fake and not necessary. Sorry but eating a bug is gross "to me" and I'm fine feeling that way.

  3. We can see the extremism and the whole notion of feeling threatened by out-groups on the news and on social media: in fact, that is what the Donald appealed to in his Presidential campaign. We see this in the persecution complex of the Religious Right.

  4. At 3 mins – "cultural relativism can somewhat falter when someone uses it to violate the rights and dignities of human beings, no matter the culture" this is just plain wrong. He already said that there is no absolute right and wrong under CR so what rights and dignities is he talking about?

  5. Is it possible for one to be both ethnocentric and a cultural relativist? My college professor is basing it off of the example: Suppose you are a soilder deployed to a foreign land and you observe traditions and practices like, enslavement of a minority population, sexual explortation of children, or other similar practices.

  6. Arent there more than two options? Maybe this lesson comes from a dualistic worldview. No kidding cultural relativism breaks down when it is used to justifying human rights abuses.

    If you fry anything and drown it in sauce anything tastes good. It's so easy to poke holes in this.

    I think cultural relativism is a large part of the reason for anti intellectualism.

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