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This article was written in 1993 for the academic journals but was not accepted for publication


J.J. Ray

University of N.S.W., Australia


G.P. Hall

IQ Solutions, Australia


The ethnocentrism model posits that pro-ingroup and anti-outgroup attitudes are strongly associated. People who are especially partisan towards their own State or region (e.g. Scottish nationalists) should therefore show heightened prejudice against ethnics and other outgroups. This was tested in a mail-out survey of the Australian States of Queensland and New South Wales. Queenslanders were found to be fiercely partisan towards their own State but attitude to Queensland showed no correlation with attitude to Asians, attitude to Aborigines (blacks), attitude towards interstate immigrants or three different types of Conservatism. Attitude to Queensland also showed no correlation with demographic variables. Regional loyalty is therefore shown to have characteristics that call into serious question the accuracy of the ethnocentrism model of human loyalties.


In the post-Soviet world, clashes between people of opposing ethnic loyalties seem to have become the main focus of political tension -- from the former Yugoslavia to the breakup of the Soviet Union itself. Endeavours to understand such loyalties would therefore seem even more important than they were previously.

The aim of the present work is to improve our understanding of just one type of loyalty -- regional loyalty. Group loyalties may be directed in many ways -- to the nation, to the tribe, to the linguistic group, to the religious group or to the racial group. Of these, loyalty to one geographic region of a single nation may seem merely a minor case but this may not always be true. Regional loyalties can be the basis of secessionist or autonomy movements (as with Scottish, Basque, Lombard and Catalan nationalism) and while the attitude of the South-Eastern English towards those born "North of Watford" may be merely one of amusement, some North-South loyalties can be passionately felt (as in Italy and Spain) and may even be a factor in civil war (as in the United States of Abraham Lincoln's day).

One of the classic models for understanding group loyalties is the "ethnocentrism" model apparently originated by Sumner (1906) but best known through the work of Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford (1950). According to this model, antipathies to outgroups reflect a single complex of underlying personality needs and are hence highly generalizable -- all outgroups will be disliked and the ingroup will be valued to an exaggerated extent.

Although differing in not being psychodynamic, the theories of Sherif (1966) and his successors did (at least initially) also share the assumption that it is attitude to the ingroup that dictates attitudes to outgroups. See also, however, Turner (1978, p. 249) and Brewer & Collins (1981 p.350).

The prediction that the ethnocentrism model gives of regional loyalties is clear: People valuing their regional identity highly (e.g. Scottish nationalists, Italian Padanians, French Bretons, Basque separatists, Texan Americans etc.) will be biased against all outgroups, whether it be other races or people from other regions. It is the aim of the present research to test this.

In Adorno et al. (1950), the ethnocentrism model also forms part of a larger "authoritarianism" model. In this model it is asserted that ethnocentrism is most closely associated with political Rightism. It seemed desirable to see therefore whether people with regional loyalties were also more conservative ideologically.


The research took the form of a mail-out survey of two of Australia's largest States -- Queensland and New South Wales. There is some popular image of Queensland in particular as a "different" State and Queenslanders themselves seem to have a very pronounced loyalty to their State in contrast to the rest of Australia. Queensland is Australia's most Northerly State and Queenslanders quite commonly refer to people from other Australian States as "Southerners" or (more pejoratively) "Mexicans". Being in the Southern hemisphere, Queensland is also climatically warmer than the Southern States and is known locally as "the sunshine State".

Queensland is more decentralized than New South Wales (Australia's most populous State) so there seemed some possibility that any Queensland differences could be attributable to the somewhat more rural character of its population. To control for this, it seemed desirable that people living in the capital cities of the two States be studiable as sub-samples in their own right. This meant that a larger sample had to be taken of Queensland to generate acceptable sub-sample ns. Questionnaires were therefore mailed out to 700 Queenslanders and 500 New South Wales residents.

Only one mailing was done. There were no follow-ups of non-respondents. This was primarily an outcome of taking the customary guarantee of anonymity seriously but was also done with the findings of Ray & Still (1987) in mind -- where it was found that even the mildest pressure to complete a survey task tends to damage the meaningfulness of the data gathered.

The questionnaire was comprised of scales which had in the main already been well-tested. There were scales to measure three types of conservatism (General Social Conservatism, Moral Conservatism and Economic Conservatism) taken from Ray (1983) and there were also scales to measure attitude to Asians, attitude to Aborigines (Black Australians) attitude to interstate immigrants and, of course, attitude to the home State. The latter scales were taken, with some modifications, from Ray (1981) and Ray & Lovejoy (1986).

The attitude to Queensland (and Attitude to New South Wales) scale was essentially the Attitude to Australia scale of Ray (1981) with the term "Queensland" (or New South Wales) substituted for "Australia". The attitude to interstate immigrants scale consisted of only two items especially written for the present study. These items were: 1). "People coming into this State from elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand generally come with good attitudes and can bring here a lot of valuable new ideas and skills"; 2). "People coming into this State from elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand just create housing and job shortages here".


A total of 331 questionnaires were returned complete -- a response-rate of 27%. There were 135 New South Wales respondents and 196 Queensland respondents.

The reliabilities (alpha) of the scales were as follows: General Social Conservatism .75; Economic Conservatism .54; Moral Conservatism .85; Asians .81; Interstate Immigrants .68; State Loyalty .80; Aborigines .88. The result for Interstate Immigrants was rather good when one considers that the scale had only two items but the result for Economic Conservatism was clearly quite unsatisfactory. As the Economic Conservatism scale focused on government intervention as a solution to economic problems, the whole idea behind it may quite simply be terminally dated in the post-Soviet era.

There were some relatively strong relationships observed in the data. Attitude to Asians and Attitude to Aborigines (blacks) correlated .422 and the correlations of these two attitudes with Attitude to Interstate Immigrants were .555 and .332. These are not large correlations in absolute terms (with a maximum of 30% common variance) but are nonetheless large by the standard of what is normally observed in social research. As such they do therefore give strong initial support for the existence of an Ethnocentrism syndrome.

The correlations with State Loyalty, however, were negligible. These correlations were: Asians .135; Aborigines .062; Interstate Immigrants .113. Highly favourable attitudes to the ingroup did NOT then go with highly negative attitudes to outgroups. Such results would appear to be fairly inimical to the Ethnocentrism theory -- at least as it is normally articulated. State (regional) loyalty quite simply has nothing to do with negative attitudes to outgroups.

In fact it had little to do with anything at all. Even the correlation between State Loyalty and being born in that State was low -- .212 among the subsample comprising Queensland residents and .043 among the subsample comprising NSW residents. For the total sample, the correlations with age, sex, occupation (manual/nonmanual) and education were respectively .037, -.006, -.052 and .001. State Loyalty could then hardly be less distinctive demographically.

General Social Conservatism correlated .423 with Attitude to Asians, .500 with Attitude to Aborigines, .252 with Attitude to Interstate Immigrants and .081 with State Loyalty. Moral Conservatism correlated .150 with Attitude to Asians, .127 with Attitude to Aborigines .094 with Attitude to Interstate Immigrants and -.095 with State Loyalty. This reveals that generalizations about conservatism are also perilous. General Social Conservatism would seem to be strongly related to anti-outgroup sentiment but conservatism on specifically moral issues (mainly issues of sexual restraint) showed no such relationships at all.

Of obvious interest in connection with conservatism was political party preference. Political Party preference in State elections was gathered in the survey and when scored from Left to Right resulted in the following correlations: -.420 with General Social Conservatism, -.265 with Moral Conservatism, -.139 with Attitude to Asians, -.179 with Attitude to Aborigines, -.025 with Attitude to Interstate Immigrants and .027 with State Loyalty. Political Party preference was then negligibly related to all the group loyalty variables.

It might be objected that all the results so far conflate two different populations. It could be said that only Queenslanders show strong State chauvinism so combining their results with results from New South Wales might obscure important relationships. This was not so. Residents of the two States differed very little. Taking the 196 Queensland respondents alone, the following correlations with State Loyalty (i.e. in this case Attitude to Queensland) were observed: General Social Conservatism .021, Moral Conservatism -.105, Asians .151, Interstate Immigrants .119, Aborigines .014. Even in Queensland, then, State loyalty explained very little.

It might be noted, however, that the study did succeed in its aim of studying a population with intense regional loyalty. The mean score of the Queensland sub-sample on Attitude to Queensland was 43.79 (s.d. 6.00) where a middling score on the scale would have been 33 (11 items with an item midpoint of 3). This meant that the sample was almost two standard deviations above a middling score. The sample was VERY pro-Queensland.

It might be objected that such a response pattern gives reduced room for discrimination and by itself explains the low correlations between this scale and other variables. This would seem not to be so, however. The mean score of 43.79 was still well below the maximum score of 55 and the scale did have a high internal reliability (alpha), indicating that the items were discriminating well. It may also be noted that the N.S.W. respondents were less extreme about their State (Mean 40.84, s.d. 5.72) but the correlations observed among their responses were little different from what was observed among the Queensland responses.


The correlation with Political Party preference did offer some validation for the General Social Conservatism scale or at least did show that General Social Conservatism is still politically relevant. It might be objected that Political Party Preference at the State level will reflect primarily local issues rather than broad ideological stances. This may indeed sometimes be true. In the present case, however, it would seem to be far from true. Queensland was for many years run by the redoubtable Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen ("Joh" for short), who was surely the most notable figure of the extreme Right in Australian politics. A vote for the National party (which "Joh" led) or its opponents was then hardly non-ideological.

The correlations with vote (cf. Williams & Wright, 1955) do then show that there is plenty of racism on the Left. When it comes to ideology, it would seem that it is mostly general social conservatives who feel free to acknowledge racist attitudes but when it comes to vote, both Leftists and Rightists are equally likely to be racist. Some other studies that have shown racists not to be particularly conservative are by Williams & Wright (1955), Weil (1985), Mercer & Cairns (1981) and Gaertner (1973).

The failure of State loyalty to predict attitudes to outgroups would seem particularly important in the light of what was revealed about the strength of attachment to the home State. Most of the sample was almost fanatically loyal to their home State. One would think that this would then be a prime breeding ground for anti-outgroup sentiments. Yet it was not so. Loving the home State did NOT imply hating other races or those from other States. The opposition of beliefs that is central to the ethnocentrism model just did not exist. Some other studies that have found ingroup and outgroup attitudes not to be correlated are: Heaven Rajab & Ray (1985), Furnham & Kirris (1983), Cairns (1982), Turner (1978, p. 249), Driedger & Clifton (1984, Table III), Brown et al (1986), Brewer & Collins (1981 p.350) and Ray & Lovejoy (1986). Note also that Ray (1978a & b) showed Scottish Nationalists to be neither particularly authoritarian nor particularly Conservative. The Scots were also shown as being MORE in favour of coloured immigration than were the English.

The "authoritarian" and "ethnocentric" syndromes posited by Adorno et al. (1950) do not therefore appear to exist, at least in this data. If neither Rightism nor ingroup loyalty correlate with anti-outgroup attitudes, they can hardly explain such attitudes. The entire "ingroup" "outgroup" terminology would in fact appear suspect. Whether a group is "in" or "out" does not in fact appear to be as criterial as was once thought.

Adorno et al based their research almost entirely on the responses of college-educated people. A general population survey of the U.S.A. reported by Sniderman, Brody & Kuklinski (1984) is therefore interesting. They found the sort of covariance reported by Adorno et al but only among college educated respondents (cf. Raden, 1989). The covariance seems more to be a product of higher education rather than something generally found. Most people find it perfectly easy to (say) dislike blacks but at the same time not be conservative and have nothing against Jews. Other general population surveys have also found low correlations between attitudes to different ethnic groups (Kinloch, 1986; Ray, 1974 Ch. 46; Ray & Lovejoy, 1986). In comparing the Ray (1974, Ch. 46) study with the Ray & Lovejoy (1986) study it may be worth noting that the sampling for the 1974 study was carried out in predominantly working-class suburbs whereas the 1986 study had no such restraints. It is therefore in line with the Sniderman et al study that the correlations between attitudes to different ethnic groups were much lower in the 1974 study.

The stereotyping literature too seems generally to show that racial attitudes are highly differentiated and multidimensional rather than monolithic (Kippax & Brigden, 1977; Paulsen & Balch, 1984; Trlin & Johnston, 1973; Houser, 1979; Newman, Liss & Sherman, 1983).

All these considerations do lead us to ask what the role of education might have been in the present data. Were the tertiary-educated respondents in this sample responsible for the intercorrelations that were observed? This was tested by re-running all analyses without including the tertiary-educated respondents. When this was done, the correlations observed between attitudes to different ethnic groups changed very little. The correlation between Attitude to Asians and Attitude to Interstate Immigrants, for instance, dropped only from .555 to .516.

The correlations with ideological conservatism, however, were more in line with the Sniderman et al results. With tertiary-educated respondents excluded, General Social Conservatism correlated .282 with Attitude to Asians, .341 with Attitude to Aborigines and .131 with Attitude to Interstate Immigrants. These correlations are, of course, all much lower than was observed previously. With the given n (233) all three correlations were significant <.05 but all were quite low in absolute terms. They are now much more in line with what was observed for vote -- i.e. no relationship between ideology and racism.

So how then do we explain antipathy to other groups? Why are racially-denominated groups perceived in similar terms to groups denominated not racially but rather by State of origin? What could Asians, blacks and interstate immigrants have in common that causes attitudes towards them to be correlated?

There is of course a great range of explanations for antipathies of this sort. The one that might fit the present case rather well is the explanation in terms of economic rivalry. Theorists such as Banton (1983) or Hechter (1986), for instance, say that racial antagonism can be a realistic response to economic competition. If interstate immigrants, Asians and Aborigines are all economic competitors we would, then, expect attitudes towards them to be correlated.

The term "Asians" in Australia would usually denote people of Han Chinese ancestry -- unlike the situation in Britain where the term generally seems to be seen as denoting people who trace their ancestry to the Indian subcontinent. That the Chinese can be economically effective competitors is no secret and several nations (e.g. Indonesia and Malaysia) to this day practice official discrimination against citizens of Chinese origins in order to right the perceived economic "advantage" of the Chinese. The idea that dislike of the Chinese in Australia might also be motivated by their perceived effectiveness as economic competitors would then seem a reasonable hypothesis.

This hypothesis is supported by the high correlation observed between Attitude to Asians and Attitude to Interstate Immigrants. The one "anti" item in the two-item scale of Attitude to Interstate Immigrants did focus quite explicitly on the role of immigrants as economic competitors (they create "housing and job shortages").

That Aborigines might be seen as economic competitors is on the face of it implausible, given a knowledge of Aborigine ethnography. Like native Americans, Aborigines tend to be totally marginal to most of the economic system (Cowlishaw, 1986). Like most of Western Europe, however, Australia did in the 1990s experience high rates of unemployment (around 10% of the workforce) and many citizens are either totally dependant on welfare payments or fear that they might easily become so. Aborigines could well be seen, however, as effective competitors for the welfare dollar. Many Aborigines still live in almost Stone Age conditions and the media seem to find this good copy. The media therefore are constantly highlighting the welfare needs of Aborigines and there is also therefore constant official huffing and puffing on the subject. Given the constant cry about the limitations on resources available for welfare, the attention given to Aborigines in this context could well cast them as dangerous competitors for limited welfare dollars. Australia's only openly anti-Aboriginal politician -- Ms. Pauline Hanson -- certainly focuses strongly on the amount of welfare dollars distributed to Aborigines.

It is then not unreasonable to hypothesize that the correlation between attitudes to the three "out" groups could reflect a common underlying fear of them as economic competitors. All this still leaves us, however, with no explanation for State Chauvinism (i.e. regional loyalty). Our only findings with regard to State Chauvinism are of a negative kind: We have been able to reject the hypothesis that it is an aspect of some general syndrome of prejudice, ethnocentrism or racism. As this is a very obvious hypothesis, however, such a negative finding seems important in clearing away the underbrush. It seems important to know that people who love their home State may perhaps be rather narrow in perspective but are not thereby monsters of prejudice.

It should be re-iterated, then, that State Loyalty, though strongly felt by most of the sample, had NO substantial relationship with any other variable: A considerable challenge for future research.


Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper Banton, M. (1983) Racial and ethnic competition Cambridge: Univ. Press.

Brewer, M.B. & Collins, B.E. (1981) Scientific enquiry and the social sciences San Fran.: Jossey Bass.

Brown, R., Condor, S., Matthews, A., Wade G. & Williams, J. (1986) Explaining intergroup differentiation in an industrial organizations J. Occupational Psychology 59, 273-286.

Cairns, E. (1982) Intergroup conflict in Northern Ireland. Ch. 10 in: H. Tajfel (Ed.) Social identity and intergroup relations Cambridge, U.K.: U.P.

Cowlishaw, G. (1986) Race for exclusion. Australian & New Zealand J. Sociology 22(1), 3-24.

Driedger, L. & Clifton, R.A. (1984) Ethnic stereotypes: Images of ethnocentrism, reciprocity or dissimilarity? Canadian Rev. of Sociology & Anthropology 21, 287-301.

Furnham, A. & Kirris, R. (1983) Self-image disparity, ethnic identity and sex-role stereotypes in British and Cypriot adolescents. J. Adolescence 6, 275-292.

Gaertner, S.L. (1973) Helping behavior and racial discrimination among Liberals and Conservatives. J. Pers. Social Psychology 25, 335-341.

Heaven, P.C.L., Rajab, D. & Ray, J.J. (1985) Patriotism, racism and the disutility of the ethnocentrism concept. J. Social Psychol. 125, 181-185.

Hechter, M. (1986) Rational choice theory and the study of race and ethnic relations. Ch. 12 in J. Rex & D. Mason (Eds.) Theories of race and ethnic relations Cambridge: U.P.

Houser, B.B.(1979) Content and generality of young white children's ethnic attitudes. J. Social Psychol. 109, 69-77.

Kinloch, G.C. (1986) A multivariate analysis of social distance in Hawaii. J. Social Psychol. 126, 137-140.

Kippax, S. & Brigden, D. (1977) Australian stereotyping -- a comparison. Australian J. Psychol. 29, 89-96.

Lipset, S.M. (1959) Democracy and working class authoritarianism American Sociological Review 24, 482-502.

Mercer, G.W. & Cairns, E. (1981) Conservatism and its relationship to general and specific ethnocentrism in Northern Ireland. British J. Social Psychology 20, 13-16.

Newman, M.A., Liss, M.B. & Sherman, F. (1983) Ethnic awareness in children: Not a unitary concept. J. Genetic Psychol. 143, 103-112.

Paulsen, K. & Balch, P. (1984) A note on the assessment of ethnic attitudes in preschool children. J. Community Psychol. 12, 288-290.

Raden, D. (1989) Interrelationships between prejudice and other social attitudes in the General Social Survey. Sociological Focus 22, 53-67.

Ray, J.J. (1974) Conservatism as heresy Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co.

Ray, J.J. (1978) Are Scottish nationalists authoritarian and conservative? European J. Political Research 6, 411-418.

Ray, J.J. (1978) Determinants of racial attitudes. Patterns of Prejudice 12(5), 27-32.

Ray, J.J. (1981) The new Australian nationalism. Quadrant, 25(1-2), 60-62.

Ray, J.J. (1983) The workers are not authoritarian: Attitude and personality data from six countries. Sociology & Social Research, 67 (2), 166-189.

Ray, J.J. & Lovejoy, F.H. (1986). The generality of racial prejudice. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 563-564.

Ray, J.J. & Still, L.V. (1987) Maximizing the response rate in surveys may be a mistake. Personality & Individual Differences 8, 571-573.

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The items of the racial attitude scales used here are given below. Items marked 'R' are reverse-scored.

Attitude to Asians

1. R Allowing educated Asians to immigrate benefits Australian society.
2. The White Australia policy was a good policy because it kept Australia white.
3. Australia has now taken just about as many refugees as it can handle.
4. We must be careful not to let too many Asians into the country or they'll take over the place.
5. R Asians should be allowed to migrate to Australia.
6. R The Japanese are a very productive people and should be allowed to settle in Australia.
7. You never know where you are with Asians.
8. R Australians should make more of an effort to learn Asian languages such as Indonesian and Japanese.
9. The Chinese are so hard-working that if we let any more of them in there would soon be no jobs for more and more Australian workers.

Attitude to Aborigines

1. R Aborigines deserve better treatment than they get in this country at the moment.
2. The Aborigines should be kept as separate as possible from other races.
3. I would not like an Aborigine to be my boss.
4. The granting of wide educational opportunities to Aborigines is a dangerous thing.
5. R Many Aborigines would probably be just as good at doing clerical work as white people are.
6. Aborigines generally don't show much inclination to work.
7. R Aborigines have been unfairly discriminated against.
8. Aborigines are not very hygiene conscious.
9. Drunkenness is one of the greatest problems with Aborigines.
10. Aborigines often get into fights with one-another.
11. R Given the chance, the Aborigine will work as hard as the white man.
12. It is only because they haven't had the same chance to get an education that Aborigines can't get work.
13. R Aborigines are a kind and gentle people.
14. The Aborigines are a rather ugly race.
15. R We could learn a lot from the way Aborigines share with one-another everything they've got.

Attitude to Jews

1. Jews tend to be very money-hungry.
2. R Jews are as honest and public-spirited as anyone else.
3. A major fault of the Jews is their conceit, overbearing pride and their idea that they are a chosen race.
4. R If it weren't for the Jews we wouldn't have had many of our most brilliant scientists and thinkers.
5. Jews are definitely not to be trusted.
6. R The Jews are much to be admired for having kept their identity in spite of centuries of persecution.
7. R Jews are one of the most cultured races on earth.
8. R After what they suffered under Hitler, Jews deserve the support of people everywhere.
9. It can't be an accident that so many people over the centuries have wanted to suppress the Jews; They must have done something to deserve it.
10. One trouble with Jewish businessmen is that they stick together and prevent other people from having a fair chance in competition.

Attitude to Southern Europeans

1. Italian migrants should make more of an effort to learn English.
2. R Greek migrants have benefited us by increasing the range of foodstuffs we can buy.
3. Italians and Greeks work such long hours that they tear down the conditions won by the Australian workers.
4. Italians and Greeks just don't know how to return the friendliness of the Australian people.
5. R Italians are no better and no worse than any other people.
6. R Greek and Italian migrants have done a lot to build up Australia.
7. Italian and Greek migrants have lowered the standard of living in Australia because they all crowd together in small houses and live like animals.
8. I can't imagine any member of my family marrying a Greek
9. R Australia is a much more cultured place because of the many Southern European migrants we have received.
10. R One thing you have to say for Italian and Greek migrants is that they are hard workers.
11. R A great advantage of the Italian and Greek migrants that we have had is that they have freed many Australians for the more interesting and responsible jobs.
12. It is unfortunate that we now seem to have permanent Greek and Italian communities in many of our cities.


Replication is one of the cornerstones of science. A new research result will normally require replication by later researchers before the truth and accuracy of the observation concerned is generally accepted. If a result is to be replicated, however, careful specification of the original research procedure is important.

In questionnaire research it has been my observation that the results are fairly robust as to questionnaire format. It is the content of the question that matters rather than how the question is presented (But see here and here). It is nonetheless obviously desirable for an attempted replication to follow the original procedure as closely as possible so I have given here samples of how I presented my questionnaires in most of the research I did. On all occasions, respondents were asked to circle a number to indicate their response.

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