Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Group behavior: The concept of group behaviour is ambiguous as to whether the behaviour of individuals in a group or the behaviour of groups towards other groups is considered. Auxiliary terms are intra-group behaviour (behaviour of individuals) and inter-group behaviour (behaviour of groups). A third aspect is the possibility of forming new groups. In literature, based on Muzafer Sherif's terminology, intergroup behaviour is often used to describe both the behaviour of individuals within a group and the behaviour of groups towards other groups. See also collectives, communities, conflicts.

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

Muzafer Sherif on Group Behavior - Dictionary of Arguments

Haslam I 146
Group behavior/Sherif: to understand intergroup phenomena (i.e., the ways that groups behave towards each other) [Sherif] believed that it was critical to take an intergroup approach. To be sure, being a psychologist, he saw the individual’s ‘perception of the social world’, coupled with the individual’s ‘learning about it’ and appraisals and evaluations of it, as a key focus of his analysis (Sherif and Sherif, 1969(1): 8). >Individuals/Sherif.
Haslam I 147
Sherif: the progress and pattern of intergroup behaviour represent[s] normal social-psychological functioning, and is neither ‘irrational’ (Sherif and Sherif, 1969(1): 269), nor a ‘problem of deviate behaviour’ (Sherif et al., 1961(2): 198).
VsSherif: it can sometimes appear as if Sherif took a very one-sided approach to intergroup relations.
SherifVsVs:/Platow/Hunter: [Sherif et al.] did all they could in their Boys’ Camp studies (>Robbers Camp study/Sherif) to show that biological and personality constructs could not account for their findings. To achieve that, [they] worked hard to demonstrate the power of the social context in shaping both intragroup and intergroup attitudes and behaviours. But [their] goal was never to discard completely other potential factors. >Robbers Camp Study/Sherif.
Haslam I 148
Intergroup relations: [for Sherif et al.] intergroup relations were conceptualized as ‘functional relationships between two or more groups … and their respective members’ (Sherif and Sherif, 1969(1): 223). Embedded here, again, is the basic premise that these relations entail actual, material interactions. Moreover, these relationships occur both between individual group members and between the groups as entities.
Interactions: a) between people within at least two separate groups
b) between groups.
Method/Sherif: three experimental phases
1) ingroup formation
2) intergroup conflict
3) reduction of intergroup conflict. >Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif.
Haslam I 154
Group behavior/boys’ camp studies/Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif/psychological theories: the studies showed that intergroup impressions, attitudes and behaviours are both
(a) consequences of intergroup relations (as opposed to causes) and also
(b) psychologically meaningful for group members. Specifically, in the studies, intergroup impressions (i.e., stereotypes) were shown to vary meaningfully in both content and valence so as to reflect changes in the competitive and cooperative relationships between the two groups.
Haslam I 155
Results: [the studies] provide[s] a clear path to follow in pursuing broader social change: to reduce negative stereotypes and foster positive intergroup attitudes, one needs to change the real relationships between real groups from which they arise. In this respect, seeking to promote intergroup harmony simply by bringing members of the two groups together to see that ‘they’re all just normal, decent people’ can be seen as dangerously naïve.

1. Sherif, M. and Sherif, C.W. (1969) Social Psychology. New York: Harper & Row.
2. Sherif, M., Harvey, O.J., White, B.J., Hood, W.R. and Sherif, C.W. (1961) Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment. Norman, OK: Institute of Group Relations, University of Oklahoma.

Michael W. Platow and John A. Hunter, „ Intergroup Relations and Conflicts. Revisiting Sherif’s Boys’ Camp studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Class 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.
Sherif, Muzafer
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017

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