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Evaluation of an investigation into group identity - Sherif et al (1954)

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Introduction

´╗┐Sherif et al (1954) Aim: To study the origin of prejudice arising from the formation of social groups Small group: individuals share a common goal that fosters interaction; individuals are affected differently by being in a group; an in-group develops with its own hierarchy and a set of norms id standardised. Norm: a product of group interaction that regulates member behaviour in terms of expected or ideal behaviour. Group: a social unit with a number of individuals who are interdependent and have a set of norms and values for self regulation; individuals have roles within the unit. Sample: 22 white American lower-middle class 12 year-old protestant (to eliminate family problems), psychologically adjusted boys. ...read more.

Middle

to further strengthen their group identity. (to see how they became in-groups) After stage one, four days were spent trying to encourage friction between the groups by means of competitions to win attractive prizes like penknives. In stage three, the groups were brought together, initially to watch films and then to take part in joint problem-solving activities. For example, in one activity, the water supply had been blocked by ?vandals? and the two groups worked to remove the blockage, in another, the groups had to pool their money to pay for a film they all wanted to watch, and in another they all had to work together to free a truck that was apparently stuck in mud. ...read more.

Conclusion

This suggests that competition is a factor leading to discrimination between groups, but that some takes place even without competition. However, when groups work together on cooperative tasks that benefit both of then, prejudice and discrimination can be reduced. Evaluation Strengths Ecological validity was high - it was a field study with the boys in a natural environment. The study had experimental validity - the boys were unaware they were being observed. There were several different data collection methods, so what they found out in the observations they then found recording which backed up what they found. Weakness There is a strong problem of ethnocentrism in this study, which makes it less generalisable as well as less valid. Ethically, this experiment is poor, as the boys were not informed in their participation, and they were also in danger of physical and psychological harm due to attacks on each others? groups. ...read more.

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