Fairness and discrimination: English versus Welsh


  • We are very grateful to Prof. Tajfel for his help and, in particular, for making available detailed information of his experimental procedures.


It has previously been suggested that there is a generic norm of conflict between groups so that when a differentiation is perceived between one group and another there is a predisposition to discriminate against the outgroup. The present study investigates whether this norm of conflict operates in social situations involving differentiation over real issues, or to what extent behavior is modified by norms of fairness. The research examined English and Welsh groups and found that when there was an opportunity of giving equal rewards to both parties about one-third of subjects acted in this fair way. Never as many as one-third of subjects acted in the most discriminatory way possible, and the remainder modified or tempered their discrimination. Behavior in this situation was felt to be the result of opposing internal norms for fairness and discrimination. Differences were found between the English and Welsh subjects. The Welsh showed more discrimination against the outgroup, while discrimination in favor of the outgroup was more common among the English. It is hypothesized that that effect may be characteristic of the behavior of ‘top-dogs’ and ‘underdogs’.