The Psychology of Prejudice

By Mark P. Zanna; James M. Olson | Go to book overview

9
Intergroup Research With the Tajfel Matrices: Methodological Notes

Richard Y. Bourhis Université du Québec à Montréal

ltesh Sachdev University of London, England

André Gagnon Université du Québec à Montréal

The Tajfel matrices are dependent measures often associated with what is known in the intergroup literature as the minimal group paradigm. In the now classic minimal group studies, Tajfel and colleagues sought to uncover the necessary and sufficient conditions that foster intergroup discrimination ( Tajfel, Flament, Billig , & Bunay, 1971). In the minimal group procedure, subjects are randomly categorized as members of one of two arbitrary groups specifically created for the purpose of the experiment. Factors known to contribute to discriminatory behavior, such as objective conflict of interest, intergroup contact, history of intergroup rivalry, intragroup loyalties, and self-interest, are systematically eliminated from the experimental intergroup situation. Despite these minimal inter- group circumstances, it was found that the mere categorization of subjects into ingroup and outgroup is sufficient to trigger intergroup discrimination ( Tajfel et al., 1971). During the last 3 decades, a large number of studies have corroborated the effect of social categorization on intergroup discrimination ( Billig, 1976; Brewer, 1979; Brewer & Kramer, 1985; Diehl, 1990; Messick & Mackie, 1989; Tajfel, 1978, 1981; Turner, 1978, 1981; Wilder, 1981).

Within minimal group studies, group members completed decision tasks that involved the distribution of valued resources to anonymous ingroup and outgroup individuals. The distribution was made using the series of point allocation scales known as the Tajfel matrices. Even though the Tajfel matrices are the dependent measures first used within minimal group studies, these matrices are quite useful for monitoring the discriminatory and parity behavior of individuals within other types of laboratory and field studies ( Bourhis & Sachdev, 1986). Thus, the Tajfel matrices constitute a sensitive dependent measure that need not be limited to intergroup studies related to the minimal group paradigm.

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