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Exploring the value of realistic conflict theory and social identity theory for understanding in-group giving in the minimal group paradigm.

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Studies that have been done on minimal group interactions predominantly focused on either on Social Identity theory or Realistic Conflict theory only. This study aimed to establish that both Realistic Conflict theory and Social Identity theory are complimentary theories, they both address the aspects which the other does not emphasize. To examine this, the minimal group study was replicated and expanded using a virtual environment setting to examine the effect of the nature of incentive on the development in-group favouritism. The study also compared how the level of in-group giving differs between the two incentive conditions when the groups are unequal. Additionally, because both realistic Conflict theory and Social Identity theory are group-orientated theories, the researchers were determined to examine if the assumptions of Realistic Conflict theory and Social Identity theory can be used to account for the influence that the nature of incentive have on in-group giving in inter-individual interaction. Furthermore, the study examined how the presence of the option to self-give affect patterns of interaction in minimal group context. The results revealed that the level of in-group favouritism is dependent upon the nature of incentive and that status categories impact on the level of in-group favouritism in a different manner. Furthermore, the results showed that there is less in-group favouritism in inter-individual interaction compared to intergroup relations. In terms of self-giving, the results indicated that participants engaged in in-group giving more than in self-giving. In summary, the results of this study shows that both Realistic Conflict theory and Social Identity theory are useful to understand the emergence of in-group favouritism in minimal group interaction because on one hand Social Identity theory explains in-group favouritism that occurs when there is no substantial gain for both parties in interaction whilst Realistic Conflict theory accounts for the increase of ingroup favouritism when the end result entails a win for one group and a loss for another.


Master of Arts in Psychology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Social groups -- South Africa., Group identity -- South Africa., Social surveys -- South Africa., Social stratification -- South Africa., Theses -- Psychology., Realistic conflict theory., Minimal group paradigm.