Quick Thoughts: Overcoming Differences

Republican senators James Lankford (Oklahoma) and Tim Scott (South Carolina) are promoting Solution Sundays: invite a family of another race to have a meal in your home so you can talk. They believe that this will help us resolve some of the racial tensions and differences in our country.

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In the 1950’s social psychologist, Muzafer Sherif, conducted a series of studies to explore Realistic Conflict Theory the most famous of which is the Robbers Cave study. He believed that group conflict, negative prejudices, and stereotypes were the result of competition between groups for desired resources. In his studies, he created two groups, devised scenarios where the groups were in conflict, and then helped them overcome the resulting prejudices and stereotypes that resulted.

He knew that simple contact between the two groups would not resolve their conflicts. To help them form as a single group, they would have to work together towards a goal. When he had the groups combine to achieve superordinate goals. These goals are tasks that would benefit both groups.

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Sherif’s ideas led to Henri Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory in which our identity is derived` from the groups that we see ourselves part of. These are in-groups. Other groups are out-groups. If the self-esteem of the in-group is threatened, these groups will often denigrate the out-groups.

If we apply these ideas to Solution Sundays, we would first find that it probably won’t result in closer relationships, reduced stereotyping, and overcoming prejudice. They would be doing better to have the two families prepare the meal together. Secondly, by acting as one group preparing a meal, your identity begins to come from this group in addition to other groups. If members of the group are from an out-group, it becomes more difficult to denigrate the out-group.

It’s an intriguing idea. Let us know in the comments if you participate or your thoughts on Sunday Solutions.

6 comments

  1. The only time this theory seemed to work was when I attended Miami Dolphins games as season ticket holder and bonded with a colorful collection of people in my section each year during the winning years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great story. And, that is exactly right! Y’all had something in common and working towards a goal other than drinking some beer and enjoying a night out.

      Was this in the time of Csonka and Griese? Those were some good years to be Dolphin fans.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  2. This post reminded me of a Thanksgiving meal back in the 1990’s that I assisted in creating. We were stationed at Ft Bliss and the officers within our particular group were having a bit of a morale problem with their men and women. We wives decided to all get together and create a meal for both officers and enlisted. I remember the wives were in two groups..separated by our spouses rank. We threw rank out the window and worked side by side that evening. WE all connected and became a tight group where the guys that simply ate the meal together still had issues relating to each other. Eating together didn’t bring about the closeness that was desired but working together on the meal sure did. I think I just proved that theory for ya. lol

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    1. Howdy Suze!

      I like the story. It really does demonstrate the theory! I’ve always loved Thanksgiving just for this reason. We were a military family, too, which means we were always multi-racial in our friends and colleagues.

      Great anecdote! Thanks for the contribution.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

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