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Haslam I 219
Jigsaw method/Aronson: The jigsaw classroom was not an abstract social psychological framework developed to explain intergroup relations but rather a strategy developed in response to an immediate need for social intervention. The research on jigsaw groups is summarized by Aronson et al. (1978)(1).
Preliminary work:
A. Contact hypothesis: The contact hypothesis identified how intergroup interaction can reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relations (Allport, 1954(2); Pettigrew and Tropp, 2011)(3). But, critically, Gordon Allport specified four conditions that needed to be met for successful contact: equal status between the groups within the contact situation, intergroup cooperation, common goals, and the support of authorities, law, or custom. These conditions were not met in the Austin school district, where Aronson started the jigsaw project.
B. A second line of scholarly work that was critical in the development of Aronson et al.’s (1978)(1) studies of jigsaw groups in the classroom was the Boys’ Camp studies by Muzafer Sherif and colleagues (1961)(4), particularly the Robbers Cave research >Robbers Cave studies.
Problems Sherif was facing: group members regularly exchanged verbal insults (…) that resulted in the destruction and theft of property.
Solution/Sherif: after the investigators altered the functional relations between the groups by introducing a series of superordinate goals – goals that could not be achieved without the full cooperation of both groups and which were successfully achieved – (…) the relations between the two groups became more harmonious, and intergroup bias was greatly reduced.
Haslam I 220
C. Cognitive dissonance as the conceptual basis for Aronson’s research. Cognitive dissonance theory posits that individuals strive to be consistent in their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. A major finding from research on cognitive dissonance theory (…) was that changing the ways that people behaved could change their attitudes. >Cognitive dissonance.
Aronson: In the case of the desegregated classroom, the relevant implication was that changing the atmosphere from competitive (a negative orientation) to cooperative (a positive orientation) would improve the intergroup climate and, eventually, increase academic performance and esteem.
Jigsaw puzzle/Aronson: the information that each student uniquely possesses is essential for completing an academic task and achieving a full understanding of the final product. >Experiment/Aronson, >Social identity/Aronson.



1. Aronson, E., Stephan, C., Sikes, J., Blaney, N. and Snapp, M. (1978) The Jigsaw Classroom. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
2. Allport, G.W. (1954) The Nature of Prejudice. New York: Addison-Wesley.
3. Pettigrew, T.F. and Tropp, L.R. (2011) When Groups Meet: The Dynamics of Intergroup Contact. New York: Psychology Press.
4. 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: University of Oklahoma Book Exchange.


John F. Dovidio, „ Promoting Positive Intergroup Relations. Revisiting Aronson et al.’s jigsaw classroom“, 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.
Aronson, Joshua M.
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-19
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