I remember reading a term for the phenomenon of being more aware of the differences between groups when you're a member of such a group.

Here's an example to illustrate it - if you grew up in the Soviet Bloc (or perhaps even in one of the countries today), you'd know all of the stereotypical differences between a Serb and a Croat, between a Czech and a Russian. But if you're from another area entirely, to you they're all Russians.

Similarly, if you're from a Latino country, you'd know all of the differences between a Cuban and a Puerto Rican, between a Dominican and a Mexican. But if you're from another area entirely, to you they'd all be Latinos, as one homogeneous group.

I'm not just talking about the phrase "detail-oriented" - there was a specific term for this quirk of humanity. Anyone know it?

  • Are you looking for this? ethnic group - relating to or characteristic of a human group having racial, religious, linguistic, and certain other traits in common
    – Lucky
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 12:37
  • No, I'm looking for a word that describes the fact that if you're in an ethnic group, you're more aware of differences between your group and "related" groups, but if you're outside the ethnic group, you tend to conflate related groups as all being the same
    – Jake
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 12:41
  • The phrase it's a Black thing[, you wouldn't understand] has been in use in the US to suggest those outside of the culture can't understand the subtleties and experiences within the culture. Often attributed to the comedian Richard Pryor, it appears to go much further back.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 12:50
  • 1
    It's an important notion in sociology, where studies of a group can be affected by whether the researcher is 'inside' or 'outside' the group. You may find the answer to your question among the terminology of that field.
    – JHCL
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 13:55
  • Hah, that's a really interesting concept. Perhaps I'll reach out to a sociologist friend of mine and see if he knows of this phrase. If I find an answer, I'll be sure to post it!
    – Jake
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


You could call such a person a splitter:-

a taxonomist who classifies organisms into many groups on the basis of relatively minor characteristics [The Free Dictionary]

in contrast with the person who cannot or does not discern small differences, who would be called a lumper:-

a taxonomist who classifies organisms into large groups on the basis of major characteristics [The Free Dictionary]

I'm not sure this is specific to someone who is a member of such a group, though.

  • But the same person could be a splitter regarding the group that he's a member of, and a lumper regarding outside groups.
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 20:34
  • @Barmar, quite so. I'm not sure this exactly fits the bill, but it might do if nothing better turns up. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 7:27
  • This appears to be the best answer - though it doesn't answer my question directly (I'm nearly certain I saw a specific term mentioned...), I'll gladly provide you credit for giving me terms I can use in my writing. Thank you!
    – Jake
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 15:27

I believe some compound form of conscious would be suitable:

: perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation

So one could be ethnic-conscious or race-conscious.

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