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Background Prejudice is an attitude usually negative toward the member of some group solely on their membership in that group. Prejudice can also bee seen as part of the general process of ethnocentrism.

Discrimination can be seen as the behavioural expression of prejudice. Psychological theories which attempt to explain the origins of prejudice fall into two major categories. Personality theories, which see the source of prejudice as being in the individual and social psychological theories, which see prejudice as a result of group membership. Many social psychological theories argue that society may be much more important than personality types in accounting for prejudice. Such theories see prejudice as a result of group membership and group interaction.

An interesting social psychological approach was demonstrated by Sherif. Sherif believes that prejudice arises out of conflict between two groups. For example when two groups want to achieve the same goal but cannot both have it, hostility is produced between them.

Increased competition between various groups during periods of economic decline, for example, may be one of the factors contributing to prejudice.

Tajfel like Sherif believes that the personality approach is inadequate in explaining prejudice and he also uses a social psychological approach.

Tajfel et al argue that, before any discrimination can occur, people must be categorised as members of an in-group or an out-group, but more significantly the very act of categorisation by itself produces conflict and discrimination. By in-group we mean a group to which a person belongs, or thinks he or she belongs.

By out-group we mean a group to which a person does not belong, or thinks he or she does not belong. The independent variable was the type of allocation they were asked to make and the dependent variable was the choices they made either being fair or showing discrimination The First Experiment under-estimators and over-estimators The subjects were 64 boys, 14 and 15 years old from a comprehensive school in a suburb of Bristol.

The subjects came to the laboratory in separate groups of 8. All of the boys in each of the groups were from the same house in the same form at the school, so that they knew each other well before the experiment. The first part of the experiment served to establish an intergroup categorisation. At first the boys were brought together in a lecture room and were told that the experimenters were interested in the study of visual judgements. Forty clusters of varying numbers of dots were flashed on a screen and the boys were asked to record each estimate in succession on prepared score sheets.

There were two conditions in the first part of the experiment. In one condition, after the boys had completed their estimates they were told that in judgements of this kind some people consistently overestimate the number of dots and some consistently underestimate the number, but that these tendencies are in no way related to accuracy. In the other condition the boys were told that some people are consistently more accurate than others.

Four groups of 8 served in each of the two conditions. After the judgements had been made and scored by the experimenter the boys were told that they were going to be grouped on the basis of the visual judgements they had just made. The subjects were actually assigned to groups at random. The second part of the experiment aimed to assess the effects of categorisation on intergroup behaviour. The subjects were taken to separate cubicles and told which group they were in.

The students were given a booklet of matrices and told that the task would consist of giving to others rewards and penalties in real money. The boys would not know the identity of the individuals to whom they would be assigning these rewards and penalties since everyone would be given a code number. The value of each point they were rewarding was a tenth of a penny. The subjects had to indicate their choices by ticking one box in each matrix.

The boys were required to make three types of choice. There were in-group choices, where both top and bottom row referred to members of the same group as the boy. There were out-group choices, with both top and bottom row referred to members of the different group from the boy.

The important choice for Tajfel is the intergroup choice. Below is an example of a matrix.


Intergroup Discrimination

Intergroup Discrimination Experiments Henri Tajfel In Henri Tajfel and others conducted experiments in intergroup discrimation in the English city of Bristol. This study was conducted with the participation of sixty-four schoolboys aged between fourteen and fifteen years. These boys already knew each other to some extent as the all attended the same school and indeed were members of the same year group and school "house. The boys found themselves variously categorised as "overestimators" and "underestimators" or as being "accurate" or "inaccurate" and were then presented with distributing rewards to their own and other groups. In one condition the top row of the matrices represented the amounts that could be allocated to a fellow group member. The bottom row referred to amounts available for allocation to another member of the in-group. A participant was not allowed to award money to himself.


Experiments in intergroup discrimination.

Minimal group paradigm See also The influence of his general vision can be seen in the book Social Groups and Identities. Some of his students went on to develop his theories of social identity and some continued his early work on social judgement. There were also chapters from former students who developed very different sorts of social psychology. Too much social psychology was, in his view, trivial and based on what he called "experiments in a vacuum". Groups offer both organizational psychology.

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