Racism after race

IN a famous series of experiments conducted in the 1970s, social psychologist Henri Tajfel asked how little it would take to persuade one group of people to discriminate against another. The answer was almost nothing. Having assigned boys to two groups based largely on random criteria, he asked them to play a game. Each boy had to decide how many pennies to give to members of his own group and to members of the other group. Tajfel found that the boys were more generous toward their own group, even though the groups had been defined almost arbitrarily. Thus was born the concept of the “minimal group…”

BLACK AND WHITE: a new exhibition at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris asks visitors to confront their own prejudices. This “category cylinder” highlights the psychological tendency that people have to classify others into discrete categories © ATELIER CONFINO

This article first appeared in ScienceNews on 14 May 2017. To continue reading, click here.