Xenophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an
abnormal, irrational, and intense fear /dislike of strangers,
(especially foreigners, which are people from another
country), or anything that is strange or foreign. The fear of
foreigners can occur in the country where the person with
the phobia lives or it can occur in a country that the person
with the phobia goes to visit.
Xenophobia can lead to uneasiness, suspicion, aggression,
hatred, contempt, and violence around strangers.
Xenophobia can manifest as discrimination that is
sometimes, but not always, based on racial grounds (e.g.,
In extreme versions of xenophobia, attempts to eliminate strangers or foreigners entirely
(e.g., genocide, deportation) can occur to maintain the perceived integrity, safety, and
comfort with one’s ingroup.
Targets of xenophobia can also include groups that have long been in existence such as
those that are conquered or subsumed through military battles or land expansion. Some
countries, such as North Korea, can be xenophobic with regards to other countries or
cultures and pursue isolationist policies.
The group that the xenophobic person identifies with is typically
idealized by that individual. As a non-racial example, someone pre-
occupied with being thin by behave in a xenophobic way to people
who are obese. Crimes based on xenophobic hatred are labeled as
hate crimes in the United States and result in harsher penalties.
Xenophobia can be caused by bad experiences with the feared
group but can also be taught from others that are xenophobic, often
by means of propaganda. Someone with xenophobia is known as a
xenophobe. Xenophobia comes from the Greek word "xenos"
meaning "stranger," and the Greek word "phobos" meaning "fear."
Put the two words together and you have "fear (of) strangers."