Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Belief Congruence Psychological Theories Haslam I 172
Belief Congruence Theory/similarity attraction principles/psychological theories: an alternative interpretation of [Tajfel’s] minimal ingroup bias (>Minimal group/Tajfel, >Group behavior/Tajfel, >Social identity theory/Tajfel; Tajfel et al. 1971(1)) was that, rather than categorization (>Categorization/Tajfel) driving discrimination, this was simply caused by participants’ perception that other ingroup members were similar to themselves. This meshed with belief-congruence theory (Rokeach, 1969)(2) and similarity-attraction principles, which suggest that we are prone to dislike others (and by extension other groups) who have different views and values to our own. (RokeachVsTajfel).


1. Tajfel, H., Flament, C., Billig, M.G. and Bundy, R.F. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1: 149–77.
2. Rokeach, M. (1969) Beliefs, Attitudes and Values. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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
Categorization Tajfel Haslam I 164
Categorization/Tajfel: Thesis: A network of intergroup categorizations is omnipresent in the social environment; it enters into our socialization and education all the way from ‘teams’ and ‘team spirit’ in the primary and secondary
Haslam I 165
education through teenage groups of all kinds to social, national, racial, ethnic or age groups. (Tajfel et al., 1971(1): 153). >Minimal group/Tajfel. Prejudice/Tajfel: The articulation of an individual’s social world in terms of its categorization in groups becomes a guide for his [or her] conduct in situations to which some criterion of intergroup division can be meaningfully applied. (Meaningful need not be ‘rational’.) An undifferentiated environment makes very little sense and provides no guidelines for action … . Whenever … some form of intergroup categorization can be used it will give order and coherence to the social situation. >Group behavior/Tajfel.
Haslam I 172
VsTajfel: An alternative interpretation of [Tajfel’s] minimal ingroup bias (>Minimal group/Tajfel, >Group behavior/Tajfel, >Social identity theory/Tajfel) was that, rather than categorization driving discrimination, this was simply caused by participants’ perception that other ingroup members were similar to themselves. This meshed with belief-congruence theory (Rokeach, 1969)(2) and similarity-attraction principles, which suggest that we are prone to dislike others (and by extension other groups) who have different views and values to our own. (RokeachVsTajfel). Could ingroup favouritism therefore be explained by the assumed similarity with those in the ingroup (and dissimilarity with those in the outgroup)? This explanation does not necessarily invalidate the effect of social categorization (as Tajfel’s own work had shown, categorization can indeed lead people to accentuate similarities within categories and differences between them). However, it does point to a different mechanism.
Vs: Further experiments by Michael Billig and Tajfel (1973)(3) in which similarity and social categorization were manipulated independently seemed to rule out this idea. These showed that social categorization produces stronger ingroup bias than similarity. >Similarity/psychological theories, >Categorization/psychological theories, >Reciprocity/psycholgical theories, >Egoism/Tajfel.



1. Tajfel, H., Flament, C., Billig, M.G. and Bundy, R.F. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1: 149–77.
2. Rokeach, M. (1969) Beliefs, Attitudes and Values. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
3. Billig, M.G. and Tajfel, H. (1973) ‘Social categorization and similarity in intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 3: 27–52.



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
Distinctiveness Group Psychology Haslam I 176
Distinctiveness/group psychology/VsTajfel: tests of the social identity explanation of minimal ingroup bias (>Minimal groups/psychological theories; >Minimal groups/Tajfel, >Social Identity Theory/Tajfel) became somewhat side-tracked by the self-esteem hypothesis. One consequence of this was that researchers neglected the role of group distinctiveness that was central to Tajfel’s original explanation. In short, gaining positivity was emphasized at the expense of gaining distinctiveness. Moreover, the very question of what is distinctive about the ingroup (in contrast to the outgroup) has not been discussed. To address this, in some of our own research we have therefore distinguished ‘reactive distinctiveness’ motivated by an established outgroup that is explicitly similar to the ingroup, from a ‘creative distinctiveness’ process relevant to unknown or minimal groups (Spears et al., 2002(1), 2009(2)).
Haslam I 177
There is now evidence that one factor that contributes to responses in the minimal group paradigm is the opportunity this provides for creating coherence and meaning through the creation of positive group distinctiveness (Spears et al., 2009)(2). Participants showed more ingroup bias (on matrices and evaluative ratings) when groups were minimal rather than meaningful. This supports the idea that discrimination in the minimal group paradigm is a way of achieving group distinctiveness that gives meaning to the participants’ assigned group identity. Moreover, the studies also provided evidence that social identification increased in the minimal conditions.


1. Spears, R., Jetten, J. and Scheepers, D. (2002) ‘Distinctiveness and the definition of collective self: A tripartite model’, in A. Tesser, J.V. Wood and D.A. Stapel (eds), Self and Motivation: Emerging Psychological Perspectives. Lexington, KY: APA. pp. 147–71.
2. Spears, R., Jetten, J., Scheepers, D. and Cihangir, S. (2009) ‘Creative distinctiveness: Explaining in-group bias in minimal groups’, in S. Otten, T. Kessler and K. Sassenberg (eds), Intergroup Relations: The Role of Motivation and Emotion; A Festschrift in Honor of Amélie Mummendey. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 23–40.


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
Egoism Tajfel 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


Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017
Group Behavior Psychological Theories Haslam I 154
Group behavior/boys’ camp studies/Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif/psychological theories: the studies (Sherif and Sherif, 1969(1) >Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif, >Social groups/Sherif) 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. >Social groups/psychological theories.
Haslam I 159
Ingroup antagonism: (Sherif and Sherif 1969(1): 284): „If two groups are irrevocably committed to conflicting objectives, there is little point in discussing conditions that are conducive to reducing the conflict. They will continue to cast blame for the state of things on each other. … In short, there are very real conflicts of vital interest that preclude the emergence of superordinate goals.“


1. Sherif, M. and Sherif, C.W. (1969) Social Psychology. New York: Harper & Row.


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 Classic studies. London: Sage Publications



Haslam I 173
Group behavior/minimal groups/dependence/VsTajfel/psychological theories: Gaertner and Insko (2000)(1) asked participants to allocate rewards but varied whether the other allocator was an ingroup member or an outgroup member, and whether participants would personally receive rewards or not. Participants favoured their ingroup over the outgroup, but only when they were dependent on an ingroup member for their own outcomes. Another study by Wolfgang Stroebe and colleagues (2005)(2) orthogonally manipulated participants’ dependence on the ingroup (yes, no) and the outgroup (yes, no) for rewards. As in Gaertner and Insko’s study, this showed that ingroup-favouring strategies were clearly strongest when there was dependence on the ingroup rather than the outgroup. See also >Group behavior/Tajfel, >Minimal groups/Tajfel, >Social Identity Theory/Tajfel, >Egoism/Tajfel.
Haslam i 174
Reciprocity: people Btend to respond to the dependency structure and then reciprocate with favouritism toward those on whom they are dependent, but this effect is considerably stronger for dependence on the ingroup (hence ‚bounded’) (Yamagishi and Kiyonari, 2000)(3). This idea is also supported by recurring evidence that people do indeed tend to expect the ingroup to reward fellow ingroup members more (Gaertner and Insko, 2000(1); Jetten et al., 1996(4); Stroebe et al., 2005(3)). >Reciprocity/psychological theories, >Minimal group/psychological theories.



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. Stroebe, K.E., Lodewijkx, H.F.M. and Spears, R. (2005) ‘Do unto others as they do unto you: Reciprocity and social identification as determinants of in-group favoritism’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31: 831–46.
3. Yamagishi, T. and Kiyonari, T. (2000) ‘The group as container of generalized reciprocity’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 62: 116–32.
4. Jetten, J., Spears, R. and Manstead, A.S.R. (1996) ‘Intergroup norms and intergroup discrimination: Distinctive self-categorization and social identity effects’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71: 1222–33.


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
Minimal Group Psychological Theories Haslam I 175
Minimal group/psychological theories: Problems: VsTajfel: By definition, minimal groups are not grounded in previous experiences, nor in already existing and easily accessible stereotypes. So how can minimal groups provide their new members with meaning? >Minimal Group/Tajfel, >Social Identity Theory/Tajfel. Cadinu/Rothbart: ‘Overall, in-group favoritism in the minimal group paradigm is a well-established phenomenon, but the exact reasons for this favoritism remain unclear’ (Cadinu and Myron Rothbart: 1996(1): 661).
Explanation/Rothbart/Cadinu: two processes: a) because social categorization implies that the self and the ingroup share certain characteristics, people will be prone to project (aspects of) the typically positive representation of the individual self onto the ingroup (self-anchoring), thereby forming a positive ingroup representation.
b) people will also apply an „oppositeness heuristic“, assuming, that ingrop and outgroup do indeed differ.
Evidence: (Cadinu/Rothbart 1996(1)): manipulating the accessibility of the individual self prior to judgments about minimal groups affected ingroup but not outgroup ratings – making judgments of the ingroup more similar to those of the self.
Otten/Wentura: (2001)(2): the degree of overlap between self and ingroup ratings predicted the degree to which members of minimal groups showed evaluative intergroup bias. There was no evidence, however, that similarity or dissimilarity in the mental representations of self and outgroup was a relevant predictor of intergroup bias in a minimal group setting (see also Robbins and Krueger, 2005(3), for a similar conclusion).
Haslam I 176
Self-anchoring: findings on self-anchoring in minimal groups (cf.Cadinu/Rothbart 1969(1)) suggest that positive representations of the ingroup result from the projection of positive self characteristics onto this group, and that the positive differentiation from the outgroup is a by-product of this differentiation. In this way, an intergroup phenomenon, namely the positive differentiation of minimal ingroups from outgroups, can be traced back to an intragroup phenomenon, namely the link between self and ingroup. At the same time, the self-anchoring approach is consistent with the idea that differentiation between minimal groups is at least partly motivated by striving for meaning. Vs: Problem: the approach cannot convincingly explain why group members sacrifice maximum ingroup profit for the sake of maximum differentiation between ingroup and outgroup.



1. Cadinu, M. and Rothbart, M. (1996) ‘Self-anchoring and differentiation processes in the minimal group setting’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(4): 661–77.
2. Otten, S. and Wentura, D. (2001) ‘Self-anchoring and in-group favoritism: An individual profiles analysis’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37: 525–32.
3. Robbins, J.M. and Krueger, J.I. (2005) ‘Social projection to ingroups and outgroups: A review and meta-analysis’, Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9: 32–47.



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


Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017
Minimal Group Tajfel Haslam I 164
Minimal group/Tajfel: Extending the earlier work of Sherif (>Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif, >Group behavior/Sherif, >Social Groups/Sherif, [Taifel’s] minimal group studies were designed to reduce the group or category to its most minimal elements and then establish at what point conflict and discrimination between groups would rear their heads. As it turned out, the intergroup discrimination arising from the highly recognizable phenomenon of gangs of boys fighting over territory and resources also arose when all obvious features that might produce such conflict (e.g., a history of antagonism, a scarcity of resources) were stripped away.
Indeed, by this means the studies provided striking evidence that boys (and later adults) would discriminate in favour of their own group in the absence of any visible signs of the groups themselves – a phenomenon typically referred to as minimal ingroup bias.
Def Minimal ingroup bias: boys (and later adults) would discriminate in favour of their own group in the absence of any visible signs of the groups themselves. >Social identity theory/Tajfel.
Predecessors: Sherifs boys’ camp studies (>Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif, Sherif and Sherif (1967(1) showed that tensions arise between groups when they have to compete for scarce resources.
TajfelVsSherif: as set out in the influential 1971 (Tajfel 1971)(2) paper in which Tajfel and his colleagues presented the findings of the first minimal group studies, two related themes seemed to motivate Tajfel’s quest to go beyond Sherif’s ideas. First, he emphasized the importance of the social context in which behaviour was embedded and acquired meaning.
Haslam I 165
Prejudice/Tajfel: The articulation of an individual’s social world in terms of its categorization in groups becomes a guide for his [or her] conduct in situations to which some criterion of intergroup division can be meaningfully applied. (Meaningful need not be ‘rational’.) An undifferentiated environment makes very little sense and provides no guidelines for action … . Whenever … some form of intergroup categorization can be used it will give order and coherence to the social situation. >Group behavior/Tajfel.
Haslam I 167
Experiment 1: (see >Method/Tajfel) when allocation involved
Haslam I 168
two ingroup or two outgroup members, participants displayed an overwhelming preference for a strategy of fairness. However, when it came to differential matrices that involved rewarding an ingroup versus an outgroup member, they were now more discriminatory in favour of the ingroup (although the modal response was still for fairness). In other words, these matrices produced evidence of significant ingroup bias. Moreover, participants’ support for this strategy did not change when the categorization procedure was given a value connotation that might justify discrimination (…). Experiment 2: Experiment 2 was designed to distinguish further between the different reward strategies participants were using. The clear result was that [the „Maximum Difference“ strategy; see >Method/Tajfel] exerted a significant pull when opposed to the other strategies. (…) the differentiation matrices provide consistent evidence of ingroup favouritism and maximum difference strategies. (>Method/Tajfel).
Interpretation of the results: Initially, Tajfel and his colleagues interpreted [the support for the maximum difference strategy (biggest positive difference between ingroup and outgroup points in favor of the ingroup)] as supporting a generic social norm to discriminate.
Haslam I 169
VsTajfel: many subsequent accounts interpreted this as an example of outgroup derogation (because it harms the outgroup at the expense of benefiting the ingroup). Problem/Spears/Otten: in the MD strategy, positive differentiation and derogation are confounded, and this problem has never adequately been addressed (and is rarely if ever discussed).
Alternative Interpretations/Tajfel: (Tajfel et al. 1971)(2): (a) demand characteristics (the idea that participants were responding to cues that conveyed the experimenter’s hypothesis), (b) expectations of reciprocity, and (c) anticipation of future interaction.
Ad (a): Lindsay St Claire and John Turner (1982)(3) found that if people were asked to role-play being members of the groups (rather than being categorized themselves) and then complete the matrices accordingly they did not show the same degree of ingroup bias (MD and MIP) but tended to predict fairness.
Ad (b): Tajfel and colleagues admitted that they had no data that spoke to this issue and hence this explanation could not easily be ruled out.
Ad (c): Tajfel proposed that the most rational strategy – given that they did not know who was in ‘their’ group – was to opt for an MJP (maximum joint points) strategy. However, (…) this strategy held little appeal.
Haslam I 170
Generic norm explanation: this explanation quickly fell from favour because of the potential circularity of a normative account: if there is a competitive norm (e.g., among participants from western countries), where does it come from and what explains that? For a solution: see >Social identity theory/Tajfel.
Haslam I 171
1. Problem: in the literature Tajfel’s minimal group studies are often used to warrant the conclusion that discrimination is pervasive and inevitable ((s) which is not explicitly claimed by Tajfel and Turner). 2. Problem: it is the question, whether the portrayal of Tajfel’s and Turner’s studies is always accurate:
A.
Social dominance theory: here evidence for ingroup favouritism is used to argue that intergroup discrimination is a generic feature of many intergroup relations (Sidanius and Pratto, 1999)(4).
B.
System justification theory: (Jost and Banaji, 1994)(5): here evidence for ingroup favouritism
Haslam I 172
is used to suggest that groups (especially those with high-status) often seek to justify their position through displays of bias towards others. >Minimal group/Psychological theories.


1. Sherif, M. (1967) Group Conflict and Co-operation: Their Social Psychology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
2. Tajfel, H., Flament, C., Billig, M.G. and Bundy, R.F. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1: 149–77.
3. St Claire, L. and Turner, J.C. (1982) ‘The role of demand characteristics in the social categorization paradigm’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 12: 307–14.
4. Sidanius, J. and Pratto, F. (1999) Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression. New York: Cambridge University Press.
5. Jost, J.T. and Banaji, M.R. (1994) ‘The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 33: 1–27.



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
Self-Esteem Tajfel 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


Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017
Similarity Psychological Theories Haslam I 172
Similarity/similarity attraction principles/psychological theories: an alternative interpretation of [Tajfel’s] minimal ingroup bias (>Minimal group/Tajfel, >Group behavior/Tajfel, >Social identity theory/Tajfel; Tajfel 1971(1)) was that, rather than categorization (>Categorization/Tajfel) driving discrimination, this was simply caused by participants’ perception that other ingroup members were similar to themselves. This meshed with belief-congruence theory (Rokeach, 1969)(2) and similarity-attraction principles, which suggest that we are prone to dislike others (and by extension other groups) who have different views and values to our own. (RokeachVsTajfel). Could ingroup favouritism therefore be explained by the assumed similarity with those in the ingroup (and dissimilarity with those in the outgroup)? This explanation does not necessarily invalidate the effect of social categorization (as Tajfel’s own work had shown, categorization can indeed lead people to accentuate similarities within categories and differences between them). However, it does point to a different mechanism.
A study by Michael Diehl (1989)(3) that (…) manipulated similarity at the group level actually found greater discrimination towards a similar outgroup. This contradicts belief-congruence principles and supports the idea that outgroup similarity might actually threaten group distinctiveness and motivate greater positive differentiation (Tajfel, 1982)(4).



1. Tajfel, H., Flament, C., Billig, M.G. and Bundy, R.F. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1: 149–77.
2. Rokeach, M. (1969) Beliefs, Attitudes and Values. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
3. Diehl, M. (1989) ‘Justice and discrimination between minimal groups: The limits of equity’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 28: 227–38.
4. Tajfel, H. (1982) ‘Social psychology of intergroup relations’, Annual Review of Psychology, 33: 1–39.


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