Rethinking the Nature of Prejudice

Rethinking the Nature of Prejudice


-John Turner: In the first lecture
of this series, I outlined the notion of a prejudice
theory of social conflict.  This is the idea of negative
attitudes towards outgroups being a function of irrationality and deficit at the level of individual psychology. I also briefly outlined what I take to
be some of the fundamental themes in that particular view of social
conflict in social psychology. Of those themes or ideas — some of you were here, I hope; I do not know how many — there are essentially four I talked about. There are really about three; you can divide them up
in different kinds of ways. The first idea was the notion that
we can explain outgroup hostility and antagonism more or less
directly as a function of something called the prejudiced personality. That was the notion, the assertion, the theme that I discussed
in detail last week. The second kind of idea is
the notion that there are general – meaning individual – general individual psychological process, motivational or cognitive, which are in some sense
purely psychologically defined and, once triggered, automatically and inevitably tend
to produce outgroup hostility. These are regarded as irrational precisely because the whole sequence is defined
in purely individual psychological terms. The sequence is not supposed
to be mediated by social factors or by the social meaning of
any intergroup relationship. It is this kind of idea that I am
going to start to discuss today. I am going to discuss it
today and also next week, as I will explain in a second, because it has various aspects. The other kind of theme, which I hope I may get around
to talking about a bit next week – I do not want to do it this week – is the idea that I refer to
as mindless socialisation. This is that people acquire
negative outgroup attitudes as a function of a process
of learning and socialisation which is relatively uncritical
and even unconscious. These attitudes hang on as residues
of the past rather than because they play any contemporary
rational or social function. Let me start with the second idea.  I will say it again
and then I will illustrate it. This is this notion that there are general
motivational or cognitive processes which one can conceptualise in relatively pure individual
psychological terms. Once triggered by some stimulus,
some event, some state, purely psychologically defined, they automatically and inevitably produce
a hostile or negative outgroup attitude. Because the process is purely psychological
and individual psychological and therefore unaffected by the social
meaning of any intergroup relationship and any social understanding
of the relationship between ingroup and outgroup, it is inherently an irrational process. Indeed, in many respects, it can even be seen as almost
socially meaningless or haphazard. That is quite abstract. Let me now give you the three
important examples of this. In both classic and contemporary work, these are what I would see as
the most important examples of this. The first, which I mentioned again
in the very first lecture at the outset, is the classic example. It is the frustration/aggression theory or the frustration/aggression
displacement theory. A more accurate way
of thinking about it, for my purposes, is the displacement theory of scapegoating. This is the notion that goes back
to Freudian psychodynamics but which was developed particularly
in the `30s by Dollard and his colleagues. It is the idea that, for all kinds of reasons,
people develop frustrations. These frustrations tend to produce
an automatic instigation to aggress. Yet under conditions where
the aggression cannot be directed against the real target, the real cause of the frustration, because either it may be unknown or because the real cause of
the frustration is too dangerous, too powerful or unavailable, then nevertheless the instigation
to aggress continues to build up. The drive to aggress
continues to build up. At some point it has to spill over. It has to be displaced. It has to go somewhere. It goes, almost in a haphazard way,
on some other target – some group that is not the cause
of the frustration. So inherent in this notion, this frustration/aggression displacement, is that the frustration automatically
and inevitably produces aggression. Where the aggression cannot be
directed rationally against the cause, it must go somewhere. It becomes, obviously, an irrational,
psychological account of scapegoating. That idea is still widely current. I said ‘a displacement theory
of scapegoating’. I will come back to that, because I am not going to deny
that scapegoating exists. Scapegoating in a political and
historical sense almost certainly exists. The question is whether this
irrational psychodynamic mechanism is an adequate account of it; that is the question
I am going to address. Now that is one example. A second example, which again is actually almost older
than the frustration/aggression theory, is the whole notion of stereotyping.  This is the whole idea of stereotyping, categorising people into groups and seeing people as relatively similar
within groups and different from others. The whole notion of stereotyping as an inherently in-principle
invalid process of perception. Again, you will find it in every textbook.  You will hear in the contemporary media,
almost on a daily basis, if you listen to the right programs, that stereotyping is an inherently
invalid process. Why, then, do we stereotype? One idea, going back to
psychodynamics again, is that it is an expression
of irrational motivation. But the other idea,
just as old and still with us, even more powerfully, is that in some sense we stereotype because we are inadequate
perceivers and cognisers.  It is because we have
a limited capacity to cognise, to understand and to perceive the world. The world, the argument goes,
is inherently individual; is inherently individual; people are unique individuals. But this is complex. It is too much for us. Because we are inadequate
as information processors and because we have problems
in understanding and dealing with all
the complexity of the world, we have to find shortcuts, we have to find heuristics and we have to find ways of
oversimplifying and overgeneralising. We categorise. We treat people as more similar
to each other than they really are. This idea goes back to `22
and Walter Lippman.  It is about cognitive simplicity. In a contemporary form, we have
the very strong and succinct notion that precisely because we are limited
in our capacity to process information, under conditions in which we are
subjected to intense cognitive load, our mental resources for
understanding the world are used up. We are really confronted with
problems and with difficulties; we are put under strain. Under those kinds of conditions, stereotyping is likely to be enhanced. Either one is more likely
directly to apply a stereotype or to activate a stereotype. Indeed, there are experiments
which seem to show and present the process
in that kind of automatic way – in that kind of an individual
psychological way.  Take a perceiver, subject them to cognitive load; for example, give them a memory task. Under the same conditions, apparently their stereotyping goes up.  It is inherently irrational, of course. The only reason you are seeing
people as members of groups is that your cognitive system
is being put under strain. There is nothing socially
rational about that. That is the second kind of idea. That idea is really a very fundamental one. It goes back, I think I said
right at the very beginning, to one of Gordon Allport’s
fundamental arguments for the whole irrationality of prejudice. I am not going to discuss that one today. I am going to discuss
that one next week. But it is an example of the general
individual psychological process. The third example, which has also been around a long time but actually again has become a much
more powerful idea in the last 30 years, is the notion of group
formation and ethnocentrism. That is, that inherent
in human group formation, inherent in human
psychological group formation, is some fundamental, inevitable
and automatic tendency to ethnocentrism and ethnocentric hostility. They are tendencies to favour one’s
own group against other groups and to discriminate against
outgroups in favour of ingroups. That notion, in its oldest form, is sometimes referred to as the idea of the universal
syndrome of ethnocentrism. It is the notion that every human group
is in some sense ethnocentric, or sees itself as better than others. There are two more recent forms,
both of which are closely related. One is the notion of ingroup identification. To the degree that any particular
individual psychologically identifies with some ingroup, one should be able to
find a tendency for them to derogate a range of outgroups
or to see the ingroup as more superior to
a range of outgroups. As a fundamental expression
of this tendency to identify, the argument goes, apparently in the service of some
kind of need for self-esteem, for us to feel good about ourselves, we must see our group as good and, therefore, we must tend to see
all other groups as bad. The other example is
slightly more experimental but is actually related,
as we will see as we go on. This is the notion of
social categorisation again. It is not so much social categorisation in terms of stereotyping
and perceiving other people, but the social categorisation of oneself
and others into ingroup and outgroup. The research paradigm,
which is very, very widely cited — the research was first done by Henri Tajfel
and his colleagues in 1971 — is often called
the minimal group paradigm. This is not the only example, but one
example goes something like this. You take a collection of individuals. In the first experiments, they were schoolboys from the same
school and from the same class. In fact, they were teenage
English schoolboys. You divide these children
into two distinct groups on the basis of some completely
trivial or flimsy criterion. It may be whether they like this abstract
painter or that abstract painter; or maybe you divide them on
a completely explicitly random basis by the toss of a coin. You divide them into one group
as opposed to another group. You then give them another task to
do about how they make decisions or how they rate people in this group
as opposed to that group. You tell them that they have been
assigned to this group membership simply for reasons of convenience
or for reasons of administration. The groups themselves have no meaning
as defined by the experimenter. There is no interaction. There are no goals. Which group you are in
is completely anonymous. All a person knows is:
I am in this group, group X; I am not in that group, group Y. There is no other similarity,
no fate, no objective, no history, nothing which normally makes
a group membership meaningful, nothing which relates to anything we conventionally think of as having
to do with intergroup discrimination. Nevertheless, you see what happens. What you find consistently
is that people will tend, in their decisions and in their ratings, to favour their own group
over the other group, as I said, even though
self-interest is not involved and they do not know
who they are favouring. All you might get is person No. 53,
a member of group X, person No. 85,
a member of group Y. Yet you get this consistent tendency
to favour ingroup over outgroup. As I said, this is not just in
decisions but also in ratings. Who is more pleasant? You say that the group numbers
who are in your group are more pleasant. That finding, by the way, has been
replicated absolutely endlessly. There is no question about the finding. The question is what it means. One of the things it has been used
to argue for is this notion that fundamentally inherent
in group formation is this kind of ethnocentric tendency. Automatically as a function of the fact
that we form a psychological group. That is the third example that is used
to argue for this general kind of idea of individual psychological processes, cognitive load, frustration,
identification with the group, which automatically and inevitably produces
outgroup prejudice in some fashion. The point here is that all
these things are processes which apparently produce
outgroup hostility as if they functioned in a social vacuum. Therefore, it is socially, by definition,
meaningless and irrational. Is any of this valid? Is there an alternative way of
making sense of what is going on when we look at these ideas or the
data associated with these ideas? I am going to suggest that, indeed, this interpretation
of what is going on is not valid and that there is an alternative way
of understanding what is going on. Indeed, there is actually a very
powerful alternative and coherent way of understanding what is going on. Before I come to outline that,
which is my argument, let me illustrate that by pointing
to another group of theories. I am going to point to three theories. It is kind of like a little family of theories. I think of them as a family of theories because this is the less orthodox
trend within the subject. I happen to think it is the right trend, the less orthodox trend. I think of these as intergroup theories. Why? Because they are all theories
which now focus on the idea that intergroup attitudes arise
not just from group formation, not just from individual psychological
processes functioning as if in a vacuum, but as a function of
intergroup relationships and how people make sense
of intergroup relationships. They are intergroup theories. There are about three. Actually, one or two of them
are kind of like families. But, for our purposes, I am going
to focus on the relevant ones and there are three that
I am going to mention. One is called realistic conflict theory. The second is relative deprivation theory. The third is social identity theory. I will spend a lot more time
on social identity theory, for reasons again which I hope
will become apparent. Let us start with the first one. In social psychology, this is associated with
the work of Muzaferb Sherif. His argument was very straightforward. He said that intergroup attitudes
follow intergroup relations. If you want to make sense of
how or why people have positive or negative intergroup attitudes, you have to look at group goals
and group interests and you have to look at
how people understand the interrelationship of group
goals and group interests. In particular, his idea was
very simple very powerful: to the degree that people perceive
their interests as in conflict, they will tend to develop competition, which will tend to lead to hostility. Insofar as they perceive their interests
in a cooperative, complementary or a superordinate relationship, a collaborative relationship, in which one group’s interests
are compatible with and may even aid the other group
achieving its interests, under those conditions cooperation
is likely to result. This is likely to lead to the development
of positive intergroup attitudes. Perceived conflicts of interest
lead to competition and hostility. Perceived collaborative or
superordinate interests lead to cooperation and positive
intergroup attitudes. He tested this. So, for him, intergroup relations,
defined by the goal relationships – the relationships of interests
between groups – are what determine the attitudes. They shift as a function
of different relationships and the different perceptions
of those relationships. And it is perceptions. It is not a question of any political
observer from the outside saying, ‘Your interests are objectively in
conflict or objectively complementary.’ What matters is whether the people
in the groups themselves define and perceive their interests as in conflict or as being in a
complementary, cooperative relationship. In three studies, which have become
classic in social psychology, in the late `40s and early `50s,
he tested these ideas. He tested them in a series of studies which were sort of quasi-naturalistic
field experiments. They were done in the USA
on teenage boys. The three studies each lasted
a period of about three weeks or so in which the boys were participants
in summer camp activities. Sherif showed in these three studies that he could create distinct
psychological groups.  He could create social arrangements whereby they could come to perceive
their interests as in conflict, which he did through sports competition. He could show that, by creating
this conflict of interests, he could get competition. Indeed, he could get the development of
highly negative and stereotypical attitudes between the members of these groups. He also showed in his last study that he could take
these groups in conflict – these groups demonstrating
mutual hostility – and, by transforming the relationship
between their group interests by giving them a superordinate goal, he could produce cooperation,
eliminate the hostility and produce the development
of positive outgroup attitudes. So the attitudes followed the intergroup
relationships defined here by group interests. That is the first theory. The second theory is relative deprivation. One can also think of this as a kind
of social justice type theory. It gets a bit complicated
in social psychology how we approach the issue of justice. We might do so in a somewhat funny way,
but we do. How does a group and when does
a group experience its situation as one of deprivation? The theory says that it is not
a function simply of the objective state in which you are in. What matters is how you
judge that objective state. What matters is whether, indeed,
you perceive a discrepancy between what you have
and what you feel entitled to. One of the powerful ways in which you
judge what you feel you are entitled to is by making social comparisons
with other groups. So, under conditions where you
compare with another group and you judge what you should have in terms of what they have
and you compare what you have in terms of what you should have
as a function of what they have, you may well experience your situation
as one of comparative relative deprivation or comparative or relative gratification. It is the sense of collective
relative deprivation which generates feelings of collective
discontent, resentment and anger which can lead to the development of
collective protest and collective hostility towards those who you feel may be standing
in the way of relative gratification. It is a justice type thing
because the argument goes — there is a whole range
of different theories here– that the way in which social
psychologists have often tended to approach the issue of justice is to ask what is fair,
what is equitable and what is right.  It is not just what we have got
or what they have got. It is what they have got
compared to what we have got in the light of our definition
of ourselves and of them. If we see ourselves as the same
as them by relevant criteria, we should have the same as them. If we see ourselves
as less worthy than them, then perhaps we should not
have the same as them. So relative deprivation is not a question of having different things
or the same things; it is whether you judge
that difference as equitable, just or fair in the light of your
judgment of you and of them. What are we like? Are we the same or are we different? What is our contribution? What are we putting in? Are we worthy? That is the kind of idea. You are judging what you have,
your out comes, the differences or similarities in outcomes in terms of what you think
is fair or unfair. That, in turn, is a function of
how you define yourself and them. Let me just illustrate that one. It is very straightforward, really. There are lots of examples. I am talking here about something that Runciman called
fraternalistic relative deprivation. That is whether you are comparing
your group with other groups, not just comparing you as
an individual with other people. It is fraternalistic relative deprivation – comparisons between groups — that is fundamental here to the experience of collective
resentment and discontent and to the generation of collective action. Dominic Abrams in Scotland
asked Scottish people how much Scottish workers earn
and how much English workers earn.  He asked how well off Scotland
is compared with England. He found that the more they think
the English earn more than them, and that the English are
doing better than them, and yet they identify strongly with
Scotland and they think that is unfair, the more likely they are to support
the Scottish National Party. It is straightforward. It is the same thing in Quebec. This is work done by some French
Canadian psychologists; they would almost certainly
call themselves Quebec qua. You ask Francophones
what they think about how much Francophones earn compared
to English speakers in Quebec. What you find is that to the degree that they perceive the English
speakers to be earning more, to the degree that they perceive
that as unfair and to the degree that
they identify strongly with Quebec, which accentuates these things, the more likely they are to support
the Quebec nationalist movement. So it is an experience of
collective relative deprivation which makes you resentful and angry and leads to collective attempts to do things. A study done by Michael Wenzel — he is not here, but never mind – at the ANU, looked at East Germans
and West Germans after unification over a one-year period. If you get East Germans
and you ask them, ‘Are you happy with your situation
vis-à-vis the West Germans? Are you getting what you think
you are entitled to? Do you think actually East Germans should
be getting a little more aggressive?’, what do you find? It is not just the degree to which
you see yourself as an East German; it is the degree to which
you compare yourself as an East German with a West German
in terms of being German. If we are German, we should be having the same
as those West Germans, and of course we are not. So you get more resentment, more activity and more endorsement of social protest. So that is the relative deprivation theory. Now let me come to
social identity theory, which is somewhat more complex. By the same token, I think it makes certain
points more powerfully. This is a theory which I worked on
with Henri Tajfel in developing. Interestingly enough, paradoxically, it actually began with the kind of
paradigm I described at the beginning, the minimal group paradigm. But whereas Henri Tajfel and I
and others took one way, in a sense, the field in many respects
tended to interpret the data in a different way. We will come back to that. Social identity theory
has three elements or three sort of basic components to it. The first component one can think of is, in a sense, an analysis
of collective motivation – an analysis of collective psychology. Tajfel argues here that people in society
categorise themselves into groups. They have social identities. They define themselves in terms
of social category memberships to make sense of their social location, to orientate themselves to society and to understand and be aware
of what they are in society. Because they define themselves
in terms of group memberships, in terms of these social identities, they seek to evaluate themselves
in terms of these social identities. The way in which you evaluate
a group membership is by comparing it with another group — just like the way you evaluate
yourself as an individual is by comparing yourself
with other individuals. Because we have a desire to
evaluate ourselves positively and a desire to evaluate the groups
with which we identify positively, this tendency to make comparisons
leads to a drive or motive for what he called
positive distinctiveness – positive group distinctiveness. We want to compare favourably
with other groups. Insofar as you define yourself in terms
of a category and evaluate yourself in terms of a category, by making comparisons between groups, you want to compare yourself
favourably with them. He called this a need
for positive social identity. You have a need
for positive social identity, which in some sense we achieve
by seeking and maintaining and enhancing the positive
distinctiveness of our own groups compared to other groups. You can see the link already
to what I have said before. The difference is that, for Tajfel, this was only one element in the theory. The other two elements were absolutely
fundamental and indispensable. There are two other elements. The first one he called
the idea of an interpersonal – intergroup continuum. If you were here last week, it is easer to think of it
in terms of the notion that under concern kinds
of conditions one behaves as an individual in relation
to other individuals. At other times, one behaves
as a group member in relation to other group members. In the language of last week’s
self-categorisation theory, it is his idea that sometimes
we define ourselves in terms of personal identities and individual
differences and act on those terms. Sometimes we define ourselves
in terms of social identities in terms of intergroup differences
and act in those terms. So it is this notion of
a continuum in the way in which people interact as individuals
vis-à-vis individuals or as an ‘us’ vis-à-vis a ‘them’ — a ‘we’ vis-à-vis a ‘them’. This idea for Tajfel,
this kind of continuum, had a couple of functions in the theory. One was almost to try and explain
the kinds of conditions under which this need for positive
social identity came into play. He was not saying that
it is always there. It only tends to come into play
to the degree that people are defining themselves as group members and making comparisons
as group members. The second kind of function it has
was to try and say, insofar as you are seeking
positive social identity and are facing challenges,
threats and problems posed to that motive by reality, how do you cope with it? Are you more likely to react
to those challenges as an individual or as a group member? When do you seek to react
as an individual person or when do you seek to react collectively by changing the situation
of the group as a whole? That was the other kind of notion. What he basically suggested — and I will put a few things together here — is that people are much more likely to react
to any social identity problems as a group, as opposed to as an individual. to the degree that they identify
strongly with the group and to the degree that they perceive
the group boundaries as impermeable — where you cannot move between groups. You are stuck in this group, and to the degree that
you have a belief about society which leads you to accept the notion that actually you can only react
to your problems collectively as a group as a whole. Do you have a belief in meritocracy? Do you have a belief that
really society is free, that any individual can go somewhere, or do you think that is a load
of capitalist bullshit? What do you think?  It is that kind of notion. So he is talking about ideological
factors and psychological factors. It is also your perception
about group boundaries in whatever the immediate social situation is. All these things were relevant to whether you tried to deal
with your identity problems as an individual by moving
as an individual or as a group by acting and getting
the group as a whole to act. That is the second idea. There is a third notion; we will put these together
a bit at the end. He did not say, ‘Okay, groups now always
seek to be better than any other.’ He used the analysis of
collective psychology to say, ‘Now, let us look at reality. Let us look at societies in which
groups are divided up and stratified, in which there are differences
between groups in terms of power, in terms of wealth, in terms of status.’ There are some groups at the top
and some groups at the bottom. We can use this analysis
of collective psychology to try and make sense of the various kinds
of identity challenges or problems your position in this kind of a social
system is going to create for you. We can also start to use this analysis to specify the different kinds of ways
you can cope with the problems posed by any particular location
in a social situation. In fact, we can put all
these things together, and I will give you some examples. It is probably the best way
of trying to illustrate it. What I am going so say for
the minute here before I get to it is that the theory, therefore, is not the
assertion of some universal drive or the assertion of some
universal superiority; it is an attempt to analyse
a variety of different ways that groups in different positions
can react to their situation as a function of their collective psychology and as a function of these ideological,
structural and psychological factors which encourage them to
look for collectivist solutions or individual solutions. So it is meant to be
a complex theory here. I will give some examples. If you are in a low status group, in terms of that status dimension
you have a negative social identity, not a positive social identity. The notion is that one of the things
that determines how you react to your high or low status is a function of your beliefs
about the nature of the differences between the groups. Low status groups
have a problem in the sense that they need to achieve
a positive social identity; high status groups have
a problem in the sense that they need to maintain
a positive social identity. But he argues that in both cases you have to take into account the nature of the beliefs
that the groups have — sorry, the nature of the beliefs
that the groups have about what the status differences are like. Are they fixed, immutable,
stable and legitimate? Are they part of the natural order of things or are indeed they contestable, unfair, unjust, illegitimate and unstable? Are they insecure or secure,
in his terminology? So I will give some examples,
after all that. If you are a member of a low
status group that believes that your inferiority on some status
dimension is legitimate and stable and you believe the group
boundaries are permeable – that you can move freely between them – you are not likely to seek positive
distinctiveness directly on that status dimension. Indeed, you are not likely to in
any way assert your difference or superiority vis-à-vis
the high status group. You are likely to accept its superiority. But as an individual you are likely to
disidentify with your low status group and seek to move up. That is one example. If you are a member
of a low status group that sees your inferiority
as legitimate and stable but believes the group
boundaries are impermeable – that you as an individual cannot move up – you are not likely to seek to challenge
the high status group on that dimension. But what you may well tend to do
is to look for alternative kinds of ways of finding a positive social identity. We called this the social creativity option. You can do various things. You can start to compare
not with them but with them. You can say, ‘We may not
be as good as them, but we are better than them.’ You can look to change
your reference group, your outgroup for comparison. You can also start to accentuate
different kinds of dimensions from those that are directly relevant
to the status dimension. We may not be as competent, but we are an awful lot nicer. We may not be rich, but we are spiritual. You can do that. Or you can start, of course, to change
the actual values of the dimensions. We may not be white, but black is beautiful. You can do those kinds of things. These kinds of things are ways of finding an alternative positivity
as a group, but they do not challenge the status quo
in terms of the status dimensions.  They can give you positive social
identity in alternative ways. The third thing you can do
if you are a low status group, if you see that difference
as illegitimate and unstable and you believe that
the boundaries are impermeable, then you are likely to be
highly motivated directly to challenge the high status group,
the dominant group, on those status dimensions.  You are likely to engage in a directly
challenging competitive strategy. That was the theory. Similarly, if you are
a high status group, and if you perceive your superiority
as completely legitimate but you feel threatened, you are likely to be
extremely discriminatory to keep them in their place. If on the other hand you feel
that your superiority is unstable and perhaps even illegitimate, now you may either want to
abandon that status dimension and look for other ways
of being superior or, indeed, you may seek to find other
ways of being superior to bolster and make legitimate that initial superiority. But certainly you are going to
react in different kinds of ways. Let me try and put
all that together here. The theory is trying to show how groups in the pursuit
of a positive social identity can adopt a whole variety
of different strategies and a varied collection of strategies as a complex function
of where they are, high or low, of what they believe about the nature
of the differences between them, legitimate or illegitimate,
stable or unstable, and of what they believe about
the nature of group boundaries and of the social system.  It is a complex set of ideas. The evidence, again, has actually been
collected for about 25 years now. I think there is a mass of evidence
in favour of this kind of an analysis. There are issues to do with
the detail of specification. But if you take the absolutely three
fundamental empirical things it says, you find that the evidence
is very, very solid. If you impose a status
hierarchy on groups – one is high, one is low – and where the people in those groups, especially in the low status group, think the boundaries are permeable, you will almost certainly decrease
identification with the low status group. You will lead those low status
members to identify more with the high status group. Study after study shows that. On the other hand, if you impose
a status hierarchy on groups where the boundaries are impermeable, it does not necessarily reduce
the identification or cohesion amongst the low status group. It may even enhance it. That is the first thing. The second idea we find
again in study after study. The degree to which the members of
a subordinate group or a low status group actually identify with that group is
an absolutely powerful predictor, a direct predictor
under appropriate conditions, of whether they are likely
to act collectively to put their subordination right; that is, whether they are likely to
act collectively to change things to achieve a positive identity. I will mention a study and
make it a bit more concrete here. This is a study done again by a Canadian,
Steve Wright, and his colleagues. This is an experiment. A collection of people are told
that if they perform well at a task, they have the opportunity of joining
this much higher status group, which is a very advantaged group. There is a lot more money involved
and it is a much nicer place to be. Then you say to them, ‘Right,
well, if you have done the task and you have performed well,
you have an option of getting in there. Now ask them
whether they will let you in.’ Then what you manipulate
in the experiment is the degree to which and how the high
status group says, ‘No, you can’t come in’, or whether you can come in. If the group is completely open, anybody who does reasonably
well is allowed in; that is one thing. If the group is completely closed, nobody, no matter how
well you have done, is going to be allowed in, and that is the way it is going to stay. There can also be proportions: 20 per cent can come in
or two per cent can come in. What you find, very straightforwardly, is that as long as the people believe that just some of them can
get in on individual merit, there is a minimal collective reaction
to this unjustified response. It is only when the members feel
that none of them can get in do they turn to what he calls
non-normative collective action: they start to talk about doing something,
making a fuss collectively. That is one example. So there is the permeability
and impermeability.  There is also the role of identification
in collective protests. We have Kris Veenstra here. Khris Veenstra and Alex Haslam published
a paper last year or this year in the British Journal of Social Psychology. They followed up some work done by
some British social psychologists – Kelley – about participation in trade union activity. What you find is that it is
people who identify strongly with the trade union movement
are much more likely to get involved in collective action
and union participation to pursue the rights and
interests of trade unions. But you also find that that interacts with their understanding
of the social situation. High identifiers are much more
likely in general to do something, and that is likely to increase the degree that they understand
the intergroup relationship between them and the bosses is conflictual. Low identifiers do not do as much. When they are faced
with a bit of conflict, they do even less; they want to get out. That is one of many studies. Identification does tend to
predict powerfully the degree to which you act collectively. The third empirical notion is this business of the perceived
nature of status differences. Again, I think there is study after
study after study showing that whether high or low status groups
see their differences between them as legitimate and stable
or illegitimate and unstable is a very powerful predictor of the degree to which they will either engage
directly in discriminatory or competitive strategies or find alternative ways of dealing
with their identity problems. A study I did with Rupert Brown way
back in the `70s manipulated all these things orthogonally: high status, low status, illegitimacy of the status relationship
for both high and low, stability, and instability of
the status relationship – can you change it or not – both high and low. In general, you will find that
if you create a consensual status system, the high status group
quite naturally will say, ‘Yes, in general,
we are better than them’; that is what you have just told them. But what you find is that the low
status group will tend to say, ‘Yes, they are better than us.’ But as you move towards a situation in which it is both
illegitimate and unstable, they stop saying that
and start to say, ‘No, we are as good
or better than you, So we find the greatest assertion
of positive distinctiveness, the greatest assertion
of ingroup favouritism, for the low status groups comes
where they see their position as both illegitimate and unstable. With high status groups, the greatest assertion
of your superiority comes when you see your position
as legitimate but unstable. Where you start to see it as
illegitimate as well as unstable, you start to look for alternative ways
in which you can say, `We are better than you’. They are alternative ways, not ways directly related
to the status difference. Let me try to put all that
together now and give you, I hope, a much more straightforward
expression of what I am saying. This is all three theories, because it is the same idea
in all three theories. Intergroup attitudes are highly varied, and indeed they are highly variable. They always vary
as a function of an interplay between people’s collective
psychology as group members, the social structure of
intergroup relationships and people’s collective beliefs, theories and understandings of the nature
of those intergroup relationships. So it is people’s collective
psychology as group members, not individual psychology. It is collective psychology
always within a social structure, always within the context of
differing intergroup relationships, not in a social vacuum. It is always a function of
that interplay as mediated by people’s collective understandings
of that intergroup relationship: what it means to them, how they understand it, how they see themselves
and how they see the others. It is always those three things
that predict intergroup attitudes. It is never individual psychology
in a social vacuum. I should also say that that notion
not only gives us a way of putting these theories together; it also starts to show us
the bridges between them. It is not a case of one of these
theories being better than the other. To me, I think it is clear
that they are all at work. The real issue – something that has been happening
over the last 10 years but somewhere where
it is very important we move much more consciously – is to understand how all these
processes are interrelated; as indeed they are. If you want to know how people
are defining their interests, you must know how
they define themselves. As a function of how
they define themselves and the content of that identity, that shapes
the way they perceive their interests. That in turn affects, of course, whether you perceive your interests
as cooperative or competitive. If you define yourself as trade
unionist versus manager, you may well experience
competitive interests. If you define yourself as a member of the Ansett
company versus somebody else, workers and managers may see
their interests as cooperative. How you define yourself collectively shapes the way you define
your interests and, therefore, your understanding of
intergroup relationships. The degree to which you start to assert
in some way a positive group identity, even if you are a subordinate group, is going to change whether
you experience your situation as gratifying or depriving. It is going to change your beliefs
about your entitlements, about whether what
you are getting is fair. Where you compare outcomes
between us and them, you may think it is fair so long as you
accept that they are better than us — those slave owners are better than us. But once you start to say,
‘No, we are as good as them’, it changes your experience. What was now fair becomes
experienced as injustice, a source of resentment and,
indeed, collective action. And vice versa too, of course. Conflicting interests play a role in the ways in which people
define themselves as this group as opposed to that group. That is one of the fundamental ways where people are experiencing
conflictual relationships which enhances identification
within groups.  It is also about processes to do
with the experience of injustice – whether you think
you have reasonable outcomes and whether you think that
you are being treated fairly. After all, it is not just what we get; we should be treated fairly. If we are all Australians,
we should all be treated as Australians. If you start to feel that you are not
all being treated as Australians and it is inappropriate, even though you see yourself
as an Australian, you start to experience what
Tyler calls procedural injustice. You can see how that is likely to
shape your awareness and beliefs about the nature of the differences
between us and them and how that changes your beliefs
about the social system. All these things are interrelated. There are various little studies here
and there which show these links. But certainly it is important
to further them. I hope that I have not totally lost you, because now I want to
come back to the first bit. I have to do this. That is about frustration/aggression, group formation and ethnocentrism. There are some complicated issues here, but they are well worth talking about. If you look at frustration and aggression
and displacement theory, is it compatible? Is the literature that we have had
for 40, 50 or 60 years compatible with what I am saying, or is it contradictory
to what I am saying? Actually, it is completely
and utterly compatible. One of the first things we learnt — and this was before we even looked
at frustration and aggression in the context of intergroup attitudes – is that there is certainly no
automatic and inevitable link between frustration and aggression. Frustration can lead to many things, one of which may be aggression. You can certainly have aggression
which does not require frustration. One of the most powerful predictors
of whether you aggress is, of course, whether you believe you are going to get some
positive things out of it, not whether you have had
bad things in the past. So there is no automatic link
between frustration and aggression. This Freudian concept of displacement
is a very difficult concept to get at, because it always implies this idea that somehow the actor
knows the real cause but is missing the real cause
in going somewhere else. Try again and look at the literature: you will find one or two studies which show that something
like that is happening. But it is always an interpretation
by the researcher. In fact – this is not my
judgment particularly; this is John Duckitt’s,
Tajfel’s, Michael Billig’s and, indeed, Rupert Brown’s in
his textbook just a few years ago – there is still no good evidence whatsoever
for the concept of displacement. If you look at what is happening in terms of frustration/aggression
in intergroup relations — and Tajfel puts this most clearly; you can also look at it
in terms of individuals when they are frustrated and
whether they aggress or not – we find that it is not at all an individual,
automatic motivational link; it is actually a highly
collective cognitive link. To understand when
frustration is experienced and whether it leads to aggression
on the part of the group or not, you always have to focus on how
the group is making sense of its situation. What is a frustration? Relative deprivation theory
is a development here. You do not just find yourself
in a situation where you feel there is a frustration; you have to do cognitive work. Who are we? What are our goals? What are our values? What are our aspirations? Where are we trying to go? You have to have all that
kind of knowledge and then say, ‘This thing that is happening
to us is thwarting us, is a deprivation, as a function of social comparisons’
and all these other things.  It is highly cognitive work to
make sense of one’s situation, even to define it as a frustration. Even then, how do you
explain it to yourself? Why are we being frustrated? Who is doing it to us? Who is the enemy and
why are they doing it? You have to have a theory of
your relationship to others, even to make sense of
why you have this frustration. What is behind it? Who is behind it? What are they up to?  All these things are actually interrelated. Do you have a collective understanding
which leads you to believe that, given they are the enemy
and are doing it to us, aggression and conflict are
going to get us somewhere. Do you believe that? That is Tajfel’s analysis here. To understand how this
frustration/aggression thing can work as a theory of collective behaviour, you have to understand that all
of this is highly cognitively motivated. So it is the very opposite
of the Freudian thing. The aggression is not happening because people do not really know
what is going on and they just have to go somewhere. It is happening because they are
putting an awful lot of work into understanding who they are, where they are going, what is happening to them
and what they can do about it. They are actually thinking. You may disagree with the theory. It is, nevertheless, a theory, a function of collective understanding, not just collective confusion
and irrationality. Of course, if you look at scapegoating, what do you do? If you were the ruling elite
of some empire, whether you are the Romans
or the British or whoever and you want to divide and rule,
what do you do? Do you just oppress people and
hope they attack the other target? Of course you do not. What do you do? You actually put an awful lot of
work into providing these people with a political analysis of who they are
and what their interests are, which helps to persuade them that it
is not you against whom the problem, the aggression and anger should be directed. It is them; they are the problem. That is what you do. You give them a theory
and an understanding. You just do not prompt
their motives in some way. I have to do this in the last
five or so minutes, and there are some difficult issues here. This business of the ingroup
is kind of paradoxical. The people who tend to argue
on the basis of the recent work that it is just psychological group formation
which produces ethnocentrism do that on the basis of social identity theory. They tend to do it often on
the basis of the research done in the name of social identity theory, which, for me, is deeply ironic. The first thing that one finds, of course, is that they have always
misunderstood the theory. They have always focused just
on the collective psychology and ignored the fact that Tajfel
said that is not the theory. The theory is collective psychology
in the social structure as a function of collective understanding. That is the theory. They always tend to focus just
on the collective psychology and then they pick out
some one single factor, like self-esteem or identification
or social categorisation. They say that causes it. In fact, when you look at the research where they have looked at
those kinds of things, what you find is that
sometimes those things cause a tendency to favour your own group. But by no stretch of the imagination do we find any automatic
or inevitable link. On the contrary: the people who say that social
identity theory is wrong are the people who have tested
this vulgarized, simple form and found that it is wrong. To me, that is an argument
for social identity theory, not an argument against it. There are all kinds of other issues. Is positive distinctiveness the same
as hostility and derogation? No, it is not. Saying you are better is not
at all the same as saying that you are against somebody
or antagonistic to somebody. The relationship between the search
for positive distinctiveness, superiority in terms of the positivity
of your identity and aggression against an outgroup is a complex relationship. To make sense of it, we have
to put social identity processes in the context of these other
kinds of processes — relative deprivation
and conflicting interests – and in the context of political, historical and social analyses. It is not just a matter of a search
for positive distinctiveness. There can be links. But by no stretch of the imagination
is positive distinctiveness the same as prejudice in the sense
of hostility or antagonism. If we look at the social
categorisation paradigm – the minimal group paradigm.  I think in my first ever study as
a PhD student I looked at this.  I think all the evidence has been
consistent ever since. Again, there is no automatic and inevitable
link between social categorisation in this minimal group paradigm
and favouring one’s own group. The more you look at it, the more you find it is actually quite
a complex and subtle process. It can look simple if you as an
experimenter just look from outside and think you know it all but do not try to make sense of
what your subjects are doing. In this stripped down paradigm, one of the things they are doing is putting a lot of effort into
making sense of this situation. The researchers took the sense away. The subjects try and put it back. You have to understand how they
are trying to make sense of it to really understand what is going on. If you say that and look at the data, you find, indeed,
it is not at all clear that psychological group formation
in this kind of abstract sense inevitably produces favouritism
towards one’s own group. It varies with whether the
ingroup/outgroup membership is an appropriate way of
defining yourself in a situation. You can give people
higher order identities. You can give people
lower level identities. You get them to act
in terms of ‘me’ and ‘I’. You can get them to ignore
the ingroup/outgroup boundary. If you get them to make a judgment
of ingroup and outgroup on the same dimension
or in different dimensions or if you let them pick the dimensions, you can reduce the level of ingroup
favouritism quite dramatically.

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