Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 173
Egoism/self-interest/Tajfel: VsTajfel: Problem: ruling out the role of self-interest in the minimal group studies (>Minimal group/Tajfel, >Group behavior/Tajfel, >Social identity theory/Tajfel) has proven no easier than ruling it out in instances of altruism (a debate that continues to rage in psychology more generally).
Minimal group/psychological theories: in the minimal group paradigm, participants always allocate rewards to another ingroup or outgroup member but never to themselves. Formally, then, there is no opportunity for self-interest. However, researchers have argued that there may be an expectation that ingroup members will favour their own group, and so it makes sense (and is rational) to favour other members of the ingroup. In other words, there are assumptions of interdependence or reciprocity within the ingroup that could explain ingroup favouritism. (Rabbie et al. 1989)(1).
Interaction/Rabbie: (Rabbie et al. 1989)(1) proposed a ‘Behavioural Interaction Model’ to formalize this interdependence and reciprocity argument. To test this, they devised an experiment with different conditions that made it explicit whether participants would receive reward allocations from (i.e., be dependent on) the ingroup (ID), the outgroup (OD) or both (IOD).
VsRabbie: participants still tended to favour the ingroup in the more balanced IOD condition and, in a critique of this research, Richard Bourhis and colleagues (1997)(2) point out that parity or fairness would be a more valid prediction in this case if only reciprocity was at work.
Haslam i 174
Self-interest may help explain why participants strive to maximize ingroup profit, but it struggles to explain why they sacrifice ingroup profit in order to deprive an outgroup of benefits. >Reciprocity/psychologcal theories.



1. Rabbie, J.M., Schot, J.C. and Visser, L. (1989) ‘Social identity theory: A conceptual and empirical critique from the perspective of a behavioural interaction model’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 19: 171–202.
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.



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


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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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