Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Reciprocity Psychological Theories Haslam I 174
Reciprocity/group behavior/psychological theories: what is special about ingroup reciprocity? It is perhaps no surprise that people expect reciprocity from the ingroup, but if reciprocity is the critical thing, why does it appear to be less effective when it is explicitly forthcoming from a minimal outgroup? Problem: researchers have tended to fall back on evolutionary arguments, proposing that from an evolutionary perspective there may be good reasons to trust the ingroup and to distrust or even fear the outgroup (Gaertner and Insko, 2000(1); Yamagishi et al., 1999(2)).
Group behavior/VsEvolutionary psychology(Spears/Otten: a problem here is that standard evolutionary arguments might lead one to expect men to be generally more competitive than women (e.g., Sidanius et al., 1994(3); Yuki and Yokota, 2009(4)). And while it is difficult to rule out these evolutionary arguments, it is just as difficult to prove them.
If bounded reciprocity is concerned with self-interest why do group members sacrifice self-interest as they do in the maximum differentiation strategy (MD; see >Method/Tajfel)? In this regard, Marilyn Brewer (1999)(5) has claimed that social identity theory (and the findings of the minimal group studies) are better able to explain ‘ingroup love’ than ‘outgroup hate’.
Vs: this criticism would seem to apply even more to the bounded reciprocity argument: after all, this is more about reciprocating within the ingroup than harming the outgroup. In sum, then, 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.

1. Gaertner, L. and Insko, C.A. (2000) ‘Intergroup discrimination in the minimal group paradigm: Categorization, reciprocation or fear?’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79: 77–94.
2. Yamagishi, T., Kikuchi, M. and Kosugi, M. (1999) ‘Trust, gullibility, and social intelligence’, Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 2: 145–61.
3. Sidanius, J., Pratto, F. and Mitchell, M. (1994) ‘In-group identification, social dominance orientation, and differential intergroup social allocation’, Journal of Social Psychology, 134: 151–67.
4. Yuki, M. and Yokota, K. (2009) ‘The primal warrior: Outgroup threat priming enhances intergroup discrimination in men but not women’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45: 271–4.

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

Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017