Realistic Group Conflict And Prejudice Intergroup Perspectives Chapter 9: Realistic Group Conflict and Prejudice Michael Platow (LaTrobe University) and Jackie Hunter (University of Otago) This chapter will examine the theory of realistic group conflict and the contributions it has made to understanding prejudice and intergroup behaviour (Campbell, 1965; Sherif, 1966). From this perspective, negative attitudes and prejudice arise when groups compete for scarce resources and their interests are incompatible (e.g., one group gains and the other group loses). However, tolerance and fairness prevail in situations in which group interests are compatible and complementary (e.g., one group gains only with the assistance of another group). This analysis of prejudice has currency in economics, sociology and other social science disciplines. The strengths, limitations and variations on realistic group conflict theory will be discussed and evaluated. The causes intergroup conflict The historical antecedents of prejudice are not always the same as the forces that sustain prejudice in the present.
The removal of the original causes of prejudice is not always enough to eliminate prejudice. Realistic Conflict Theory (Sherif): Groups become prejudiced toward one another because they are in competition for material resources and/or political power. Robber’s Cave Experiment (Sherif & Sherif, 1954) Boy’s camp at Robber’s Cave State Park Participants: 20 boys, 11-12 years old None new each other prior to study Three phases, 1 week each Phase I At first groups were separated, no knowledge of each other. Normal camp activities Ingroup identity creation: each group developed norms, leaders emerged, the Rattlers and Eagles Phase II Groups aware of one another. At first, no conflict.
Competition introduced. Prizes: pocket knife, medal, cash Effect of competition-*Intergroup conflict Name calling pig, cheater Saw own group positively We’re brave And outgroup negatively They are sneaky, stinkers Seizing and burning other team’s flag Cabin raids, stealing jeans. Losing team stole the prizes Held noses while passing members of other camp Caught hiding rocks in their socks. Increase in preference for ingroup members, negativity within group declined. Intergroup hostility =* ingroup solidarity Phase III Reversing the hostility was ore difficult than creating it. Noncompetitive contact? Didn’t work. Just another opportunity to fight.
Introduction of Superordinate goal: mutually shared goal only achieved through intergroup cooperation. Water supply broke. Camp truck broke down. Groups came together to fix them. Effects of superordinate goal: Negative stereotypes declined.
Increase in outgroup friendships. Groups decided to put on entertainment program together. Groups insisted on riding home together on same bus. Rattlers used prize money to buy malts for everyone. *Competition can cause prejudice that extends beyond the actual competition Science.