Definitions. Psychology Fanatic.
Definitions. Psychology Fanatic.

Xenophobia is the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange and foreign that is connected to nationalism, ethnocentrism, or the belief that a certain nation, state, or community is superior to others.

Robert M. Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, explains we naturally have in-group bias. In research measuring sensorimotor reaction to another person being poked in the hand with a needle, found we have a stronger response to an in-group member’s suffering. Cultures magnify the intensity. In the same study, researchers also discovered that “the stronger one’s implicit in-group bias, the stronger this effect” (2018).

These biological learned reactions are not xenophobia but the foundational elements that can lead to eventual fear and hatred. Often the expansion from normal identification with one’s own group to unnatural fear of another group is the work of political exploitation. A person feeds the fear to create a crisis in need of a savior. The fear explodes into hatred, policies, and violence.​Fear is a powerful motivator.

Xenophobia vs. Racism

​Xenophobia is “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

Racism is a belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race over another.

Xenophobia is a fear of foreigners while racism is a belief in superiority of a particular race.

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Sapolsky, R. M. (2018). Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. Penguin Books; Illustrated edition.

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