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Minimal Group Paradigm
Are you discriminating against or excluding someone just because they belong to a group different from yours?

Minimal Group Paradigm

Once upon a time, in the peaceful village of Two Streams, the villagers lived harmoniously, working together to ensure the prosperity and well-being of their community. The town was named after the two clear streams that provided water to the villagers and nurtured the fertile lands on which they depended.

One summer, a charismatic stranger named Dr. Winsome arrived in Two Streams. Intrigued by the village's unity, Dr. Winsome conducted a social experiment. He gathered the villagers and asked them to randomly draw a red or blue stone from a bag. He then instructed those who drew a red stone to wear a red armband, while those who drew a blue stone were to wear a blue armband.

Dr. Winsome explained that the two groups would be competing against each other in a series of games and challenges. The villagers, though puzzled, agreed to participate, eager for some excitement in their otherwise quiet lives.

Over the following days, the villagers became deeply invested in the competition. Those wearing the same color armbands began associating more closely with each other, cheering on their teammates and feeling a sense of pride in their victories. As the competition intensified, the villagers started to identify strongly with their respective teams, even though the groupings were wholly arbitrary and had no previous meaning.

Soon, the friendly rivalry turned into hate. The red and blue groups began to exhibit in-group favoritism, supporting and praising their own teammates while criticizing and belittling the opposing group. They started to segregate themselves, eating, working, and socializing only with members of their own group.

Dr. Winsome watched as the village transformed, clearly illustrating the minimal group paradigm. This psychological theory suggests that even arbitrary distinctions between groups can give rise to prejudice and discrimination, as individuals tend to favor their own group over others.

Realizing the impact of his experiment, Dr. Winsome decided it was time to intervene. He gathered the villagers again and asked them to remove their armbands, reminding them that the groupings were entirely random and had no bearing on their true identities or abilities. He encouraged the villagers to reflect on their behavior and the divisions they had allowed to form between them.

As the villagers removed their armbands, they began to see the absurdity of their prejudice and the harm it had caused their once-united community. They apologized to one another for their behavior and committed themselves to rebuilding the bonds that the competition had strained.

With time, the villagers of Two Streams restored their sense of unity, vowing never to let arbitrary distinctions divide them again. The experiment had taught them a valuable lesson about the dangers of the minimal group paradigm, and they now understood the importance of celebrating their similarities and embracing their differences.

And so, the village of Two Streams returned to its peaceful, harmonious state, with the villagers working together to nurture their shared home and ensure the well-being of all.

What did we learn?

Being categorized as part of a group is enough to link that group to a person's sense of self. Then, in an effort to create a meaningful identity, participants allocated more resources to their IN group than the OUT group. Pursuing their group's interests, despite no apparent benefit to themselves as individuals.

Can it be overcome?

YES! Bringing individuals together in a NEW group can temporarily help people overcome entrenched biases. However, these positive effects are easily negated by external factors that reinforce existing group identities.

Minimal Group Paradigm - Simple Explanation

The "minimal group paradigm" is when people feel like they belong to a particular group, even if the reason for being in that group is very simple or doesn't really matter. When people are in a group like this, they often like their own group more and treat people from other groups differently, even if there's no good reason to do so. It shows how easily people can start to favor their own group and mistreat others just because they feel like they're on different "teams."

Minimal Group Paradigm - Technical Explanation

The "minimal group paradigm" is a psychological concept that explores the development of intergroup biases and discrimination. It demonstrates that even arbitrary and superficial distinctions between groups can create a sense of loyalty and preference for one's own group while fostering prejudice and discrimination against others. The paradigm is used to study the cognitive and social processes underlying in-group favoritism and out-group hostility.

Where did the Minimal Group Paradigm come from?

The minimal group paradigm was first introduced by social psychologist Henri Tajfel and his colleagues in the early 1970s. Tajfel's seminal study in 1971 provided evidence for this phenomenon, where he observed that individuals favored their own arbitrarily assigned group even without any meaningful differences or interaction between the groups.

Racism and the Minimal Group Paradigm - Evidence Based Politics - Dr. Nate Link

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