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  1. Brock Bastian

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470672532.wbepp297

The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology

The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology

How to Cite

Bastian, B. 2011. Xenophobia. The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


Xenophobia is a concept that has not received a great deal of attention in the psychological literature. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word consists of two parts: xeno (referring to “guest, stranger, person that looks different, foreigner”) and phobia (“fear, horror or aversion”). Although there has been little research or writing focusing directly on xenophobia, as a concept it raises three important issues that are relevant for research on prejudice and which have received a good deal of attention in the literature. First, prejudice does not necessarily involve negative attitudes towards others (e.g., they are dirty or untrustworthy). Simply perceiving a person as foreign, alien, or strange is sufficient to produce aversion or a preference for reduced contact. Second, xenophobia highlights the fact that prejudice against others involves both cognitive and emotional elements: It involves not only viewing other groups as different along some socially important dimension, but also having an aversive emotional reaction towards that difference. Third, prejudice is often studied within the context of intergroup relations or as attitudes held towards specific social groups; however, prejudice can also involve an aversion to difference per se. Xenophobia highlights the fact that sometimes people show dislike for others simply when they appear different to one's own “kind.” This form of prejudice is anchored in a love of or preference for people who are similar to one's self and an aversion to anyone who differs from one's self. In what follows I will review research and theory that elucidates each of these three central components of xenophobia, therefore providing some grounding for a term that has itself received little empirical investigation.


  • intergroup threat;
  • disgust;
  • social withdrawal;
  • dehumanization;
  • ethnocentrism;
  • nationalism;
  • attachment