Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 171
Self-esteem/Tajfel: The focus on self-esteem can be traced back to the original social identity researchers – Henri Tajfel and John Turner – and their proposition that individuals strive to achieve or maintain a positive social identity (Tajfel and Turner, 1979)(1). >Social identity theory/Tajfel.
Oakes and Turner (1980(2) showed that the opportunity to discriminate on the Tajfel matrices (>Method/Tajfel) did indeed raise participants’ scores on a measure of self-esteem.
VsTajfel/VsOakes: subsequent reviews have criticized the use of measures of personal global self-esteem in these and other studies (see Hewstone et al., 2002(3); Long and Spears, 1997(4); Rubin and Hewstone, 1998(5)) since this seems to go against the more group-level spirit of social identity theory.
VsVs: a study led by Jackie Hunter and colleagues found evidence for enhanced collective esteem in a domain important to the ingroup after ingroup favouritism in a minimal group setting (Hunter et al., 1996)(6). Literature reviews also suggest reasonable support for the self-esteem hypothesis when such criteria are met (see Hewstone et al., 2002(3); Rubin and Hewstone, 1998(5), for reviews).
Problem: it is not clear whether enhancing group identity and esteem is the only or even most important mechanism that drives minimal ingroup bias (specifically the MD (maximum difference; >Method/Tajfel) strategy in the minimal group studies. >Minimal proups/Tajfel,



1. Tajfel, H. and Turner, J.C. (1979) ‘An integrative theory of intergroup conflict’, in W.G. Austin and S. Worchel (eds), The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. pp. 33–48.
2. Oakes, P.J. and Turner, J.C. (1980) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour: Does minimal intergroup discrimination make social identity more positive?’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 10: 295–301.
3. Hewstone, M., Rubin, M. and Willis, H. (2002) ‘Intergroup bias’, Annual Review of Psychology, 53: 575–604.
4. Long, K. and Spears, R. (1997) ‘The self-esteem hypothesis revisited: Differentiation and the disaffected’, in R. Spears, P.J. Oakes, N. Ellemers and S.A. Haslam (eds), The Social Psychology
5. Rubin, M. and Hewstone, M. (1998) ‘Social identity theory’s self-esteem hypothesis: A review and some suggestions for clarification’, Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2: 40–62.
6. Hunter, J.A., Platow, M.J., Howard M.L. and Stringer, M. (1996) ‘Social identity and intergroup evaluative bias: Realistic categories and domain-specific self-esteem in a conflict setting’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 26: 631–47.


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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