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Prejudice & Discrimination Theories #3

Common In-Group Identity Model
The Common In-Group Identity Model is a theoretical model proposed by Samuel Gaertner et al (1993) that outlines the processes through which inter-group bias may be reduced.  It is derived from the Social Identity Theory approach to inter-group behaviour. The model describes how intergroup bias can be reduced if members of different groups can be persuaded to see themselves to be part of the same, larger group, then they would develop more positive attitudes of the former out-group members. An individual will change the way they view the out-group through re-categorising former out-group members as members of the enlarged in-group. In other words, their existing schema set is modified by taking on board memes of shared values.

Re-categorising is driven by giving the different groups a ‘common out-group’ that they are concerned about. Thus, they start to see themselves as having a shared in-group identity against the shared out-group. Eg: in soccer Manchester United vs Liverpool fan conflicts can be transcended by getting both sets of fans to see themselves as being England supporters vs Scotland supporters. Working together against the common ‘enemy’ creates a sense of homogeneity amongst the former opponents.

Copyright © 2012 Syyim

Importantly, while  re-categorisation encourages the members of the previously conflicted groups to consider themselves as belonging to one common superordinate group, it does not require an individual to reject their original sub-group identity in favour of the new inclusive group identity. Rather, a dual identity may be present, whereby individuals view themselves as members of different groups working towards the same goals

A number of studies have supported the Common In-Group Identity Model. A particularly interesting field experiment was conducted at the University of Delaware football stadium by Jason Nier et al (2001). Interviewers (either white or black) approached white football fans wearing either a home team hat (the Common In-Group Identity condition) or an away team hat (the control condition). Football fans responded more positively with black interviewers more when the interviewer was wearing the home team hat, suggesting that (black) out-group members were treated more favourably when they were perceived to share a more inclusive common in-group identity. Jonas Kunst, Jonas, Lotte Thomsen & David Sam (2014) found that emphasising a common in-group identity may have the potential to ease tense relations between religious groups. Muslims and Christians who identified with the common group of Abrahamic religions were more favourable towards the respective out-group. However, those who were religious fundamentalists were less inclined to agree with this common origin.

In evaluating the Common In-Group Identity Model, it is important that there is a very great risk of transferring antipathy and violence to the new out-group – eg: previously-warring Manchester United and Liverpool fans now, as England fans, attack Scotland fans.

Miles Hewstone (1996) questions the long term effectiveness of the approach proposed in the Common In-Group Identity Model. He expresses concerns that, because of the dual identity, the original inter-group conflicts are likely to re-emerge when the shared out-group menace recedes. Eg: Manchester United and Liverpool fans don’t stop being fans of their clubs when they focus on being England fans. So, if the Scotland ‘threat’ is not maintained,  they will slip back into the old identities and antipathies.

Adorno’s types of prejudiced persons
A more clearly-cut developmental approach to prejudice and its behavioural acting out (discrimination) comes from the work of Theodore Adorno et al (1950).

Working in the aftermath of World War II the researchers constructed tests for ethnocentrism and anti-Semitism – including the notorious F-Scale (Fascism Scale) – and administered them to a sample of 2,000 American men and women, mainly from white middle class backgrounds, in various organisations, institutions and schools. Respondents were asked their strength of agreement or disagreement with statements so that researchers could determine their attitudes towards religious and ethnic minorities, their views on politics and economics, and their moral values. Respondents in the highest and lowest quartiles of the total sample took part in extended interviews supervised by Adorno’s colleague Else Frenkel-Brunswik. The interview sample consisted of 40 men and 40 women – evenly split between high and low prejudice for the men. However, there were 25 women in the high prejudice group and 15 in the low prejudice group. There was an attempt create a matched pairs design on the criteria of age, political and religious affiliations and national/regional background.

From this work, Adorno et al found 10 different types of prejudiced persons:-

  1. Psychopathic Rebel
    This type has a penchant for tolerated excesses such as heavy drinking and overt homosexuality. They are neither that rigid in their viewpoints nor always that prejudiced as such. However, they tend to be asocial, childish and prone to violence and sadism.
    Clearly this type is driven by the RED vMEME – though the tendency to sadism may also indicate them being high in the Psychoticism Dimension of Temperament.
    The researchers also identified what seems to be a non-prejudiced version of RED – Impulsive – which share all the excesses of the prejudiced type but tends to be intrigued by difference rather than aggressive towards it. This indicates the importance of memes and schemas in the way the vMEME acts out and presents itself.
  2. Crank
    This type displays paranoia – typical of unhealthy RED – and the individual may tend to be isolated. Prejudice is important as a means of  escaping mental illness. Sharing the prejudice with others – memes – does provide a form of social validation of aggression against out-groups. This shows BLUE starting to create a RED/blue narrative that all the in-group can share. Where the ‘crank’ shows mysticism and superstition, this could also mean some degree of vMEME harmonic with PURPLE and RED.
  3. Surface Resentment
    This type accepts their prejudices from external sources as ready-made formulas to rationalise or overcome their own difficulties. They are motivated by having someone else to blame – ie: scapegoats. This can be see as typifying the red/BLUE entering phase of the RED/BLUE transition.
  4. Authoritarian Personality
    Adorno et al are most renowned for their research into this type which was put forward as a key dispositional explanation for unquestioning submissi0n to authority – eg: as so many Germans accepted the Nazi regime and its horrors in the 1930s and early 1940s. This is discussed in Obedience.
    The authoritarian personality clearly is very driven by the BLUE vMEME. However, in this type’s dislike of ethnic minorities, BLUE may be working in a vMEME harmonic with PURPLE. In cases where an authoritarian personality has displayed sadism and/or extreme cruelty, Psychoticism may also be a factor.
  5. Conventional
    This type still looks to external standards but the dogma is less extreme and more integrated into a general conformity Discontent is less prominent than in the authoritarian personality and such types rarely seek to dominate others. This type seems to embody the BLUE/orange exiting phase.
  6. Manipulative
    This type very much represents ORANGE’s place in the world: narcissistic, shallow and empty on the one hand; concerned with opportunity, technological progress and efficiency on the other. Interestingly, Clare W Graves’s first term for ORANGE was ‘Manipulative’.
  7. Easy-Going
    Representing the ORANGE/green exiting phase, this type tends to let things go, on  live-and-let-live basis. This type is open to experience but reluctant to commit to anyone’s cause.
    However, while seeming largely to fit ORANGE/green,  it may be that it’s better to say the ‘easy-going personality’ fits somewhere in the ORANGE/GREEN/YELLOW range as some elements of Adorno et al’s description are very vague and could be placed anywhere ORANGE/green to GREEN/yellow phases.
  8. Rigidly Unprejudiced
    This type refuses to see any value in any form of prejudice and discrimination and holds dogmatically to concepts of egalitarianism and liberty. Clearly driven by the GREEN vMEME, it is intolerant – sometimes aggressively so! – of people who are prejudiced and do discriminate.
  9. Protestor
    The protestor, in the GREEN/yellow exiting phase, has a cause: to make amends for all the injustice caused by discrimination. Everyone, in this viewpoint, is guilty of causing harm through their prejudices.
    Some descriptors for the ‘protestor’ hint at a harmonic of BLUE in the mix.
  10. Genuine Liberal
    Epitomising YELLOW to a considerable degree, this type is autonomous, independent and largely without any specific cause beyond compassion and the demonstration of moral courage. This type has no interest in determining the beliefs of others but equally is resistant to having other’s beliefs imposed.

In the 1950 report on their project, Adorno et al denied that there was any sense of hierarchy in their findings. Yet just a year later, Frenkel-Brunswik was making it clear that there was a hierarchy in the types they had found, with the unpredjudiced demonstrating more complex thinking than the prejudiced. She sees this development of more complex thinking as similar to that in Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. Frenkel-Brunswik writes (p406): “Some of the trends which are connected with ethnocentrism are thus natural stages of development which have to be overcome if maturity is to be reached.” (See also: Is Racism Natural..?)

Adorno et al’s study was severely criticised by Roger Brown (1965) who thought the structure of the test invited acquiescence responses – ie: the respondents agree with one item because they’ve agreed with other items.  Robert Rosenthal (1966) pointed out that the interviewers knew both the hypothesis and the interviewees’ test scores. Therefore, there was more than a possibility of researcher bias influencing the process and, therefore, the results.

Clearly prejudice and discrimination are complex, heavily-related topics. It may well be surmised that simply the act of categorising – by which all sentient creatures make sense of their world – makes prejudice and consequently acting in a discriminatory manner a natural, adaptive response. It can argued it is a BEIGE/PURPLE group survival mechanism. However, how stereotyped prejudices are sustained and lead to discriminatory behaviours is influenced by a number of factors. These include memetic infection of attitudes, perceived and real competition, the number and quality of superordinate goals groups share, the temperaments of leaders and other key influencers, their current motivations and how they influence group culture.

Superordinate goals, having a common in-group, familiarity with the ‘others’ and maturity of motivation all have a part to play in reducing prejudice and discrimination.

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