The main purpose of this study was to examine Malaysians’ perception on the relationship between different ethnic groups in Malaysia. Simultaneously, this study was also used to analyze the relationship between ethnocentrism and interethnic interaction among local college students. The motivation for this study comes from the inconsistency of studies in relation to interethnic relationships with reference to ethnocentrism among local students.
The first research question was: How do Malaysians perceive the relationship between the different ethnic groups in Malaysia? The data definitely suggests that individuals were knowledgeable about the presence of cultural dissimiliarities between their own cultural aspects. Terminating cultural voids are essential by acknowledging the dissimiliarities and preventing any racist thoughts. Hence, it is paramount to recognise the dissimiliarities by being careful as not to impose ethnocentrism in intercultural situations. The research also signified that individuals were informed about the principles of other cultures. In a multiethnic Asian society like Malaysia, culture has a meaningful function in the population’s behaviour such as compromising and building friendships (Ezhar, 2009 as cited in Ketab et al., 2017). People who have ample cultural knowledge appreciate and acknowledge the functions of cultural principles such as beliefs and values which would affect an individual’s outlook and opinions. Furthermore, the results of this study were found to be in agreement with Nesdale & Todd (1998) who state that cross ethnic relationships are of great usefulness for students as they can understand others and develop a sense of understanding about other ethnicities.
The second research question was: What is the relationship between ethnocentrism and interethnic interaction among local students in Malaysian multiethnic universities? Ethnocentric ideas can and do influence the attitudes of students to be of poor quality, contributing to making bad decisions. Their skewed understandings of other cultures would influence them to have hostile communications established on bias. The data proves that ethnic separation is not a major concern in Malaysian universities anymore, and that the local ethnicities are not attracted to building an aura of “we” that boycotts out-groups and treats it as an “us”. Harmony between cultures will expand and flourish, with it being a very active type of coexistence, making way for beneficial cooperation among the ethnicities.
The findings undoubtedly signify that a lot of work has been completed to better the state of affairs and has decreased the likelihood of disagreements and negative actions. The paradigm in the results demonstrates that the students are now considerably culturally integrated at their universities. Interethnic interactions and communications are deliberate and when settled, are both comfortable and productive.
Hence, the data has appeared to be constant with previous research which signified that ethnocentric attitudes are an obstacle to productive interethnic interaction (Lin, Rancer, & Trimbitas, 2005 as cited in Ketab et al., 2016).