The Us vs. Them mentality explained

By Ellie White

It may feel like the world has become more and more divided in recent years. Whether it be in politics, especially in the aftermath of the past election, or even in sports, such as Patriots vs. Falcons in Super bowl LI, the mentality of ‘Us vs. Them’ continues to emerge causing division to dominate.

Human history seems to have always been defined as ”Us” as in “the good guys” and “Them” as in “the bad guys.” No matter how you look at it, there always seems to be two groups. An example of this is in World War II, the Us vs. Them equaled the Allies and the Axis powers. Another case of this mentality can be seen in the workplace as reported by the US Department of Labor. The green line represents women in the labor force and the blue line represents men.


Kevin Miller, a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women, “Men are more likely to apply for jobs in the first place, even if they aren’t full qualified, whereas women will assume that they need to be fully qualified in order to apply,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

The human mind categories everything from fruits and veggies to genres of books, so of course categorizing other humans seems logical. The problem with this is that humans are bias toward the group they associate themselves in and others teams they do not associate with. Say there are two sports teams, the red and blue team. You know nothing about the teams, but you have to pick one to root for. Perhaps you choose the red team, because they remind you of the Cincinnati Reds or the UC Bearcats. On the other hand, maybe you pick the blue team because they remind you of the Xavier Musketeers. Whatever your reason, you are unconsciously assigning your own bias to one team or the other based on your own experiences and opinions.

This problem causes the middle ground to disappear, leaving only us and them. “Us vs. Them really exists. I think that…as a nation, as a people, as a school even, whatever community we’re in, we become polarized. There is no middle ground, the middle keeps disappearing and then it is us vs. them,” Sam Roflow, the McNicholas morality teacher, said.

At its core, we are all human beings. “Think about it, consciously or unconsciously we all tend to put people in boxes that we know little or nothing about or that we’re afraid of. For example, not every Mexican is undocumented, not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every white police office is shooting a person of color, not every person of color is a criminal, and not every convict will reoffend,” Kim Bogucki, a police officer of 27 years, said in a TED Talk.

Associating with a group is not necessarily negative for relationships or society. What is important to remember, however, is that not all other groups are bad, and there is no need to try to divide humans. We should not ignore our common differences, but rather see everyone as an individual, and someone worthy of respect and kindness.



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