The sports category has moved to a new website.

7 unexpected signs you might be subconsciously xenophobic

You just might be xenophobic, and recognising these signs in yourself isn't easy.

Are you xenophobic? [Freepik]

Xenophobia, the fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners, is thought of as a blatant, outspoken bias.

However, it can also exist in more subtle, subconscious forms that you might not immediately recognise in yourself.

Understanding these hidden signs can help in addressing and overcoming them. Here are seven unexpected indicators that you might be subconsciously xenophobic:


If you find yourself feeling uneasy or annoyed when hearing foreign accents or languages, this discomfort can be a sign of subconscious xenophobia. It's a reflection of viewing the unfamiliar as "other" or less desirable, even if you don't consciously think you're doing so.

Do you catch yourself making assumptions about someone's behaviour, intelligence, or values based on their nationality? This is a common way xenophobia sneaks into our subconscious, leading us to stereotype people without realising it.

If you steer clear of neighbourhoods known for their immigrant populations or cultural events different from your own, ask yourself why. Avoidance can be a sign of underlying discomfort with those different from you, reflecting a subconscious xenophobic attitude.


Critiquing foreign traditions or customs, especially by comparing them unfavourably to your own, can be a subtle form of xenophobia. This behaviour suggests a belief in the superiority of one's own culture over others.

Pay attention to how you talk about people from other countries. Using "us" vs. "them" language creates a divide, emphasising difference and distance rather than commonality and connection. This distinction can be a subtle indicator of xenophobic attitudes.


If you find reasons to justify why it's okay to trust or like people less from certain countries ("It's just a safety issue," or "They're taking our jobs"), you might be rationalising subconscious xenophobia. These justifications allow xenophobic attitudes to persist by masking them as rational concerns.

Feeling like your way of life is threatened by the presence of other cultures can be a sign of subconscious xenophobia. This can manifest as resistance to multicultural initiatives or discomfort with the increasing visibility of diverse cultures in your community.

Recognizing these signs in yourself isn't easy. It requires honest self-reflection and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths. However, identifying and acknowledging subconscious biases is the first step toward overcoming them. Here are a few ways to address these attitudes:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about different cultures, languages, and traditions. Understanding reduces fear and builds empathy.
  • Expand your social circle: Interact with people from various backgrounds. Personal relationships can break down stereotypes and change perceptions.
  • Reflect on your attitudes and behaviours: Consider why you might feel a certain way and challenge your own assumptions and prejudices.
  • Seek diverse perspectives: Listen to voices and stories from different cultures through books, movies, and media.

Overcoming subconscious xenophobia is a process of unlearning and relearning, a journey towards becoming more open, understanding, and accepting of others. By recognising these signs in ourselves, we can start to make changes that lead to a more inclusive and empathetic worldview.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: