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Minimal Group Paradigm

  1. Sabine Otten

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470672532.wbepp160

The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology

The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology

How to Cite

Otten, S. 2011. Minimal Group Paradigm. The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

Abstract

“Can discrimination be traced to such origin as social conflict or a history of hostility? Not necessarily. Apparently the mere fact of division into groups is enough to trigger discriminatory behavior.” These sentences, with which Tajfel (1970) opened his first report on what is now known as the minimal group experiments, provide in a nutshell both the main research question that led to the development of the Minimal Group Paradigm (MGP), and the main conclusion from its results. When this publication — and later the better-known piece by Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, and Flament (1971) — came out, the authors probably weren't expecting how much impact their research on the minimum conditions for eliciting ingroup favoritism and relative outgroup derogation would have on both theory and research in the field. In fact, MGP as designed by Tajfel and his co-workers quickly became, and still is, a widely used and extremely useful approach, allowing researchers to investigate basic processes in people's behavior as group members in a highly controlled setting. Moreover, the findings on so-called minimal groups inspired the development of one of the most relevant theories on intergroup behavior: social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979).

Keywords:

  • minimal groups;
  • social identity theory;
  • ingroup favoritism;
  • categorization effect