Abstract This article seeks to test the theoretical relationship, derived from Ernest Becker's work on individual vulnerability (or mortality salience), between vulnerability/insecurity and views of the in-group and out-group. Using samples of respondents from twelve nations in the European Community, we rank the respondents on degree of vulnerability and then compare vulnerable and non vulnerable respondents on their views of their own ethnic group and intermediate and distant out-groups. We find partial support for the Becker hypothesis—the more insecure and vulnerable respondents are significantly more hostile to intermediate and distant out-groups than are their less vulnerable co-respondents. However, we do not find support for a second aspect of the Becker hypothesis—the more vulnerable respondents were not significantly more positively oriented to their own ethnic group. the findings do suggest that insecurity, vulnerability, and mortality salience may be important elements in understanding some of the political aspects of inter-ethnic relations.