Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Method: a method is a procedure agreed on by participants of a discussion or research project. In the case of violations of a method, the comparability of the results is in particular questioned, since these no longer come from a set with uniformly defined properties of the elements.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Haslam I 166
Method/Tajfel: (Minimal group studies, (Taifel et al. 1971(1)): The key point (…) [was] that [the two studies] both involved assigning the participants to groups on a completely arbitrary basis.
1. For the first study the participants were asked to estimate the number of dots projected on a screen. There was then one group of under-estimators and one of over-estimators. In fact, though, they were assigned at random to these categories.
2. For the second study the participants were asked to indicate their aesthetic preference for a series of 12 paintings by Klee and Kandinsky. The actual assignment to categories was again random.
After being assigned to groups in this way, participants were told that they would engage in a task that involved giving real money rewards (and penalties in Experiment 1) to other people. They would not know these people and it was stressed that they could never reward or penalize themselves. They were then placed in cubicles to complete this task alone.
Matrices: In the next phase, participants completed reward matrices (one matrix per page) designed to examine how they would choose to reward members of the two groups (their ingroup and the outgroup).
The matrices were designed to measure the pull of particular reward strategies when set in opposition to others (see Bourhis et al., 1994(2), for an excellent overview of the matrices and the scoring method).
Haslam I 167
(…) the theoretically most interesting cases are those involving ‘differential’ matrices that (…) involve assigning points to an ingroup versus an outgroup member.
Strategies: a) maximum ingroup profit (MIP), which involves giving the most possible points to the ingroup, and
b) maximum difference in favour of the ingroup (MD), which involves ensuring that the ingroup member gets more points than the outgroup member.
Properties to be examined:
- fairness/parity/F; most similarity in ingroup and outgroup points
- maximum difference/MD; biggest positive difference between ingroup and outgroup points in favor of the ingroup
- maximum joint profit/MJP; most combined points for ingroup and outgroup
- maximum ingroup profit/MIP; most points for ingroup
Results: see >Minimal group/Tajfel.
Haslam I 170
Circularity: generic norm explanation: this explanation quickly fell from favour because of the potential circularity of a normative account: if there is a competitive norm (e.g., among participants from western countries), where does it come from and what explains that?
Norms/explanation/interpretation/problem: the challenge, then, is to explain which norm operates when, and because a normative account cannot do this, it was pushed back into the long grass. Having said this, dismissing normative processes may have been premature. For example, Margaret Wetherell (1979)(3) subsequently used normative arguments to explain evidence that Maori children showed less ingroup favouritism than more westernized Pakeha New Zealanders. For a solution: see >Social identity theory/Tajfel.
A further element was a social comparison process: understanding the meaning of our group involves a comparison with other relevant groups of which we are not members (facilitated by the social categorization process). To see the ingroup as ‘us’ implies a contrast with „them“.
Distinctiveness/Tajfel/Turner: Tajfel and Turner (…) posited a motivational process whereby groups strive for ‘positive group distinctiveness’, which entails them positively differentiating their ingroup from the relevant comparison outgroup, on valued dimensions, and thereby gaining a positive social identity.

1. Tajfel, H., Flament, C., Billig, M.G. and Bundy, R.F. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1: 149–77.
2. Bourhis, R.Y., Turner, J.C. and Gagnon, A. (1997) ‘Interdependence, social identity and discrimination’, in R. Spears, P.J. Oakes, N. Ellemers and S.A. Haslam (eds), The Social Psychology of Stereotyping and Group Life. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 273–95.
3. Wetherell, M. (1979) ‘Social categorization in children and the role of cultural context’, New Zealand Psychologist, 8: 51.

Russell Spears and Sabine Otten,“Discrimination. Revisiting Tajfel’s minimal group studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic studies. London: Sage Publications

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Tajfel, Henri
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017

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