The Psychology of Ego-Involvements: Social Attitudes & Identifications

By Muzafer Sherif; Hadley Cantril | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
EGO-INVOLVEMENTS AND IDENTIFICATIONS IN
GROUP SITUATIONS

It has become almost a truism by now that group interaction produces differential results in the experience and behavior of individuals participating in a group situation. Before we take up the problem of ego-involvements and identifications in group situations, we shall call attention to the psychological properties generated in group situations. Whether organized or not, when two or more (say, five hundred individuals) interact in a situation, psychologically speaking, we have a group. The size of the interacting group will, of course, greatly affect the characteristics of the group, as, for example, its compellingness for the individual members. A group will function differently depending on whether it is spontaneous or organized, homogeneous or heterogeneous. However, without losing sight of special problems these and other variations create, we can still say that essentially the same basic psychological principles are at work in the many variations of group interaction.1

At the end of the 19th century and during the first decades of the present century, sociologists were time and again stressing the fact that the individual in group situations no longer experienced and behaved in the same way as he does when in isolation, while psychologists in general preoccupied themselves with a search for the elements of the mind (sensations) before attempting to handle concrete problems of everyday life. Since sociologists received little help from the main body of academic psychology, they tended to formulate their own psychological principles or to advance suprapsychological (supraindividual) doctrines. In the writings of Durkheim [16], Le Bon [24], Blondel [8], Ross [47], Martin [29], La Piere [23], Blumer [9], and others, we find inter-

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1
For a discussion of this point, see [56].

-280-

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