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Humans evolved in the context of intense intergroup competition, and groups comprised of loyal members more often succeeded than those that were not. Therefore, selective pressures have consistently sculpted human minds to be "tribal," and group loyalty and concomitant cognitive biases likely exist in all groups. Modern politics is one of the most salient forms of modern coalitional conflict and elicits substantial cognitive biases. Given the common evolutionary history of liberals and conservatives, there is little reason to expect pro-tribe biases to be higher on one side of the political spectrum than the other. We call this the evolutionarily plausible null hypothesis and recent research has supported it. In a recent meta-analysis, liberals and conservatives showed similar levels of partisan bias, and a number of pro-tribe cognitive tendencies often ascribed to conservatives (e.g., intolerance toward dissimilar others) have been found in similar degrees in liberals. We conclude that tribal bias is a natural and nearly ineradicable feature of human cognition, and that no group—not even one’s own—is immune.
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Tribalism is Human Nature
**In press; Current Directions in Psychological Science; as of June 10, 2019**
Cory J. Clark
Durham University
Brittany S. Liu
Kalamazoo College
Bo M. Winegard
Marietta College
Peter H. Ditto
University of California, Irvine
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Abstract
Humans evolved in the context of intense intergroup competition, and groups comprised of loyal
members more often succeeded than those that were not. Therefore, selective pressures have
consistently sculpted human minds to be "tribal," and group loyalty and concomitant cognitive
biases likely exist in all groups. Modern politics is one of the most salient forms of modern
coalitional conflict and elicits substantial cognitive biases. Given the common evolutionary
history of liberals and conservatives, there is little reason to expect pro-tribe biases to be higher
on one side of the political spectrum than the other. We call this the evolutionarily plausible null
hypothesis and recent research has supported it. In a recent meta-analysis, liberals and
conservatives showed similar levels of partisan bias, and a number of pro-tribe cognitive
tendencies often ascribed to conservatives (e.g., intolerance toward dissimilar others) have been
found in similar degrees in liberals. We conclude that tribal bias is a natural and nearly
ineradicable feature of human cognition, and that no group—not even one’s own—is immune.
Keywords: politics, bias, symmetry, tribal loyalty, intergroup conflict
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Tribalism is Human Nature
The human mind was forged by the crucible of coalitional conflict (Geary, 2005). For
many thousands of years, human tribes have competed against each other. Coalitions that were
more cooperative and cohesive not only survived but also appropriated land and resources from
other coalitions and therefore reproduced more prolifically, thus passing their genes (and their
loyalty traits) to later generations (Tooby & Cosmides, 2010). Because coalitional coordination
and commitment were crucial to group success, tribes punished and ostracized defectors and
rewarded loyal members with status and resources (as they continue to do today). Thus, displays
of loyalty and commitment to other members of the tribe also enhanced individual-level fitness
(by increasing status and resources and minimizing risks of ostracization). Over time, this would
select for traits that signal and enhance coalitional commitment (Berreby, 2005) such as ingroup
favoritism (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Tribalism, therefore, is natural.
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Tribal Bias
Although tribal loyalties inspire many noble behaviors, they can impel humans to
sacrifice sound reasoning and judgmental accuracy for group belonging and commitment
(Kahan, Peters, Dawson, & Slavic, 2017). In other words, tribal loyalties can lead to tribal
biases. For example, people selectively approach information that supports their tribe’s interests
and avoid information that has potential to harm their tribe (by watching particular news
networks, or by forming “echo chambers” in their social environments; Stroud, 2010). And
people evaluate information they are exposed to in a biased manner by being uncritically
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By tribe, we simply mean a human social group sharing a common interest, and by tribalism,
we mean tendencies to be loyal to and favorable toward one’s own tribe (and less favorable
toward other tribes). By human nature or natural, we mean evolved human propensities that
develop in most humans.
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accepting of information that supports their tribe’s agenda and more skeptical of information that
opposes it (Ditto et al., 2018). These kinds of cognitive biases are problematic because (1)
post-enlightenment societies prize reason and rationality and no longer explicitly tolerate
obvious displays of ingroup favoritism, and (2) modern governments require the coordination of
multiple groups (e.g., political groups) to function. Biases decrease the likelihood of consensus
as groups fail to agree even on the facts in a particular debate.
There are at least two reasons tribalism distorts beliefs. First, beliefs display and signal
loyalty to group goals. Asserted opinions at least partially function as behavioral intention
indicators and therefore as coalitional membership indicators (Pietraszewski, Curry, Petersen,
Cosmides, Tooby, 2015). When one asserts “Abortion is immoral,” one indicates willingness to
coordinate with others to regulate abortion. Coalitions that generally oppose abortion (e.g., the
modern GOP) react negatively toward putative members who assert skepticism about pro-life
principles (Ditto & Mastronarde, 2009) because this indicates an unwillingness to cooperate on
that goal. If beliefs are held fervently, compel strong emotional displays, or are costly to hold,
they might function as honest (and thus trustworthy) loyalty signals (Kurzban & Christner,
2011). Perhaps perversely, dogmatism and resilience to contrary evidence likely enhance the
persuasiveness of the signal, because they show that one is strongly dedicated to the group’s
ideology in spite of potential consequences (e.g., being wrong about a difficult to answer
question).
Second, beliefs are precursors to potential arguments that support the interests of the
group, which coalitions are often formed to pursue and protect (e.g. wealthy people who want
low tax rates). In modern societies, violence is verboten, so tribes prevail not by conquering
other tribes, but by persuading other people—often, by making arguments. Sincere beliefs
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generally lead to better and more zealous arguments than cynical hypocrisy (von Hippel &
Trivers, 2011). Therefore, people are motivated to favor and believe information that promotes
their group’s interests and to resist information that opposes their group’s interests because it
makes them more persuasive proponents of their group’s cause (Kahan, Jenkins-Smith, &
Braman, 2011).
Political Bias
These two reasons also likely explain why politics appears to be one of the most fertile
grounds for bias (Van Bavel & Pereira, 2018). Political contests are highly consequential
because they determine how society will allocate coveted resources such as wealth, power, and
prestige. Winners gain control of cultural narratives and the mechanisms of government and can
use them to benefit their coalition, often at the expense of losers. Given these high stakes,
motivations to signal group loyalty and to defend the positions of the group are likely
particularly powerful in politics.
Within the political domain, individuals appear most biased about those issues most
important to the group, which often include moral commitments (Ditto, Pizarro, & Tannenbaum,
2009). As noted above, moral commitments signal that one is willing to conform to the rules of
the coalition. Therefore, groups are particularly prone to giving status to those who conform to
and vocalize support for moral norms and to deducting status from those who rebel and vocalize
dissent against those norms (Descioli & Kurzban, 2013). Thus, we can expect tribal biases to be
especially large for important moral commitments (Tetlock, 2002). For example, if opposing
abortion is a central goal for the political right, conservatives will be particularly biased about
facts surrounding abortion. If enhancing the status of women in society is a central moral goal of
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the political left, liberals might be particularly biased about facts surrounding the gender wage
gap.
However, humans also care about truth and accuracy (for obvious evolutionary reasons),
and so biases are most likely to emerge for issues where the truth is ambiguous (Munro, Weih, &
Tsai, 2010). Many if not most political (and moral) disagreements are about ambiguous issues.
Experts disagree about when a fetus or child can experience conscious pain and about the many
contributors to the gender wage gap (and even the size of it). Even if experts could agree on the
facts, political positions often reflect opinions about what ought to be the case (often subjective
beliefs) based on beliefs about what is the case (ideally objective facts). For example, if the
within-profession wage gap is largely due to women’s choices to work fewer hours, should they
be paid the same as men? Policy choices often involve painful and complicated tradeoffs (e.g.,
interfering with free market autonomy to reduce income inequality, investing in new and more
costly energy technology to minimize climate change).
When the truth is ambiguous, tribal biases are more powerful because argument is more
important than when the truth is clear. Groups do not debate whether trees exist because the
answer is virtually undeniable. They do, however, debate whether fetuses deserve various legal
protections or whether women are paid less than men for equal work, because there are
intelligent arguments on both sides of these issues and there is no one obvious correct answer.
There is an unfortunate tribal logic here. One might imagine that ambiguity would compel
humility and confessions of uncertainty, but when ambiguity occurs in the context of coalitional
conflict, it may actually increase epistemic arrogance and bias. This is perfectly sensible,
however, if we remember that humans are coalitional animals, not dispassionate reasoners. They
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were not “designed” to be humble; rather, they were “designed” to conform and to protect the
status of their tribe (Kahan et al., 2017).
Our guiding assumption, then, is that tribal bias is a nearly ineradicable element of human
nature and that it causes predictable cognitive biases (those that benefit the self and the group).
Specifically, people will be biased in favor of their tribe, particularly for issues important to the
tribe (often moral issues) and particularly when ambiguity is high and therefore the importance
of argument and persuasion is high. Given that modern liberals and conservatives share
evolutionary histories that favor loyalty signals and tribal biases, it is a priori likely that the
psychological propensities for bias would be similar on the political left and right. We call this
the evolutionarily plausible null hypothesis and recent research has supported it.
Everyone’s a Little Bit Biased…
Social sciences for a long time focused especially on the biases of conservatives, with
some scholars arguing that conservatives are more biased than liberals (e.g., Jost, Glaser,
Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003).
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But in recent years, researchers have pushed back against this
narrative, contending that the overwhelming preponderance of liberals in the social sciences may
have skewed research about political ideologies and the people who hold them. Liberals likely
see their own biases as truths (Pronin, Lin, & Ross, 2002) and see conservative beliefs as
peculiar and wrong; therefore, they seek to explain the “conservative mind” and its perplexing
biases (Duarte et al., 2015; Eitan et al., 2019).
This insight inspired Ditto and colleagues (2018) to conduct a meta-analysis to test these
competing hypotheses. Across 51 experiments that tested the tendency for liberals and
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Likely all political tribes display group loyalty biases, but the majority of this work has been
conducted in the U.S., so we focus on U.S. politics here. Future work should examine these
patterns in other political systems.
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conservatives to evaluate identical information more favorably when it supports their own
political commitments than when it opposes them (for example, a death penalty supporter
evaluating scientific methods as more valid when the results of those methods support rather than
oppose the deterrent efficacy of the death penalty), there was strong support for the symmetry
hypothesis: liberals and conservatives were both biased, and to virtually equal degrees. Because
the included studies were performed under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, these results
cannot tell us how liberal and conservative biases might vary over time and context, but they do
suggest that liberals and conservatives share the same basic psychology that leads to bias—and
to similar degrees. This finding is consistent with the evolutionarily plausible null hypothesis:
tribal bias is natural, and thus all political tribes should be similarly susceptible to it.
…Even liberals
Whereas earlier scholars often emphasized that conservatives were higher in proclivities
that ought to predict stronger biases (than liberals) such as authoritarianism and dissonance
avoidance, a new wave of research in social psychology suggests that many of these proclivities
exist in equal levels in conservatives and liberals. As can be seen in Table 1, these include
authoritarianism, discrimination, dissonance avoidance, prejudice, selective exposure, and
resistance to science. For example, although researchers previously thought conservatives were
more intolerant of dissimilar others, such results may have been due to confounds between the
target groups investigated by liberal researchers (e.g., African Americans) and the political
ideology of the target groups (e.g., African Americans tend to be politically liberal). More recent
work suggests that people exhibit higher intolerance toward groups perceived as more dissimilar
to their own group, and to similar degrees for liberals and conservatives (Brandt, Reyna,
Chambers, Crawford, & Wetherell, 2014).
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Table 1. Recent work demonstrating more symmetry between liberals and conservatives than
previously believed.
Domain
Claim
Reference
Authoritarianism
Left-wing authoritarianism exists, and
predicts similar outcomes as right-wing
authoritarianism
Conway, Houck, Gornick, &
Repke, 2018
Discrimination
Liberals and conservatives similarly
endorse more discrimination against
groups that violate their values than
groups that do not
Wetherell, Brandt, & Reyna,
2013
Dissonance
avoidance
Liberals and conservatives similarly
avoid writing counter-attitudinal essays
Collins, Crawford, & Brandt,
2017
Prejudice
Liberals and conservatives are similarly
intolerant toward ideologically
dissimilar and threatening groups
Brandt et al., 2014
Resistance to
science
Liberals and conservatives have similar
negative reactions to dissonant science
communication
Liberals and conservatives similarly
deny scientific interpretations of results
that conflict with their attitudes
Nisbett, Cooper, & Garrett,
2015
Washburn & Skitka, 2018
Selective exposure
Liberals and conservatives are similarly
averse to learning the views of
ideological opponents
Extreme conservatives demonstrate the
most selective exposure, but moderate
conservatives demonstrate the least
Frimer, Skitka, & Motyl,
2017
Rodriguez, Moskowitz,
Salem, & Ditto, 2017
This does not mean that conservatives and liberals are similar in all ways or that one
group will never be vastly more biased or incorrect than the other—they will (Federico & Malka,
2018; Ditto et al., 2019). Groups, as we have argued, are most biased about issues that are
morally important and ambiguous. The general psychological propensities for bias appear similar
on the political left and right, but there are predictable domain-specific asymmetries in bias.
To consider a few examples, conservatives appear more motivated to reject
anthropogenic climate change than liberals, likely because it seems to support government
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regulation and more centralization and hurts the fossil fuel industry, an important part of the
Republican base in the United States (Lewandowsky & Oberauer, 2016). Conservatives may also
exaggerate the amount of choice people exercise over their sexuality because homosexuality is
considered immoral by a substantial proportion of the religious believers in the Republican
coalition (Haider-Markel & Joslyn, 2008), and contending that it is a free decision rather than an
innate inclination is more compelling for moral condemnation (Clark, Baumeister, & Ditto,
2017). On the other hand, a growing body of work suggests that liberals in general are more
biased than conservatives about traditionally conceived disadvantaged groups (e.g. women,
Blacks; see Table 2), likely because an important moral value of the political left is opposition to
inequality (Jost, Nosek, & Gosling, 2008).
Table 2. Recent work documenting a domain-specific bias asymmetry about disadvantaged
groups such that liberals are more biased than conservatives
Finding
All political orientations demonstrate a pro-black bias, but higher
liberalism was associated with a larger pro-black bias
Liberals were more willing to make a utilitarian sacrifice of a White
man’s life than of a Black man’s life, whereas race had no influence on
conservatives’ judgments
Whereas liberals are more inclined to amplify the successes of
disadvantaged groups (i.e., Blacks, women) than advantaged groups
(i.e., Whites, men), conservatives treat the successes of both groups
more similarly
White liberals present less self-competence to Black than White
interaction partners, whereas White conservatives treat the groups more
similarly
Liberals are biased against the notion that there could be biological
differences between demographic groups when those differences appear
to favor advantaged groups, whereas conservatives display less of a bias
A study from a political bias meta-analysis with the closest relevance to
disadvantaged groups (affirmative action and same-sex marriage) found
one of the largest effect sizes for liberal bias (Crawford, Jussim, Cain, &
Cohen, 2013)
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Note that if one group currently has more or stronger concerns (because of historical and
time variant factors such as rapidly changing demographics or having recently lost a presidential
election), or if one group has more moral convictions in general, one might predict more bias in
that group (during that time period, or in general). However, our best current estimate is that
domain-specific asymmetries between liberals and conservatives appear to produce general
symmetries in pro-tribe biases among liberals and conservatives when averaged across multiple
domains (and over at least a brief period of time). Until newer or better information contradicts
these recent findings, it seems reasonable to posit that liberals and conservatives are roughly
symmetrical in their pro-tribe cognitive tendencies.
Conclusion
Humans are tribal creatures. They were not designed to reason dispassionately about the
world; rather, they were designed to reason in ways that promote the interests of their coalition
(and hence, themselves). It would therefore be surprising if a particular group of individuals did
not display such tendencies, and recent work suggests, at least in the U.S. political sphere, that
both liberals and conservatives are substantially biased—and to similar degrees. Historically, and
perhaps even in modern society, these tribal biases are quite useful for group cohesion but
perhaps also for other moral purposes (e.g., liberal bias in favor of disadvantaged groups might
help increase equality). Also, it is worth noting that a bias toward viewing one’s own tribe in a
favorable light is not necessarily irrational. If one’s goal is to be admired among one’s own tribe,
fervidly supporting their agenda and promoting their goals, even if that means having or
promoting erroneous beliefs, is often a reasonable strategy (Kahan et al., 2017). The incentives
for holding an accurate opinion about global climate change, for example, may not be worth the
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social rejection and loss of status that could accompany challenging the views of one’s political
ingroup.
However, these biases decrease the likelihood of consensus across political divides. Thus,
developing effective strategies for disincentivizing political tribalism and promoting the much
less natural but more salutary tendencies toward civil political discourse and reasonable
compromise are crucial priorities for future research. A useful theoretical starting point is that
tribalism and concomitant biases are part of human nature, and that no group, not even one’s
own, is immune.
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Recommended Readings
1. Ditto et al., 2018 (see References): A meta-analysis of partisan bias studies (which found
liberals and conservatives showed an equivalent tendency to evaluate politically congenial
information more favorably than politically uncongenial information), including a discussion
of how to reconcile conflicting literature on the question of symmetry in partisan bias.
2. Eitan et al., 2019 (see References): An article demonstrating the extent to which political
social psychology research can be affected by liberal viewpoints and values.
3. Van Bavel and Pereira, 2018 (see References): A comprehensive and topical overview on
ways in which partisan identity can affect individuals’ cognition, judgments, and decision-
making.
4. Kahan, Peters, Dawson, and Slavic, 2017 (see References): An article for understanding how
motivated reasoning in politics serves to maintain individuals’ standing in important ingroups
(e.g., based on political identity).
5. Federico and Malka, 2018 (see References): Example of a review article that challenges the
notion that conservative ideology is invariably linked with certain psychological dispositions
and argues instead that the association is often dependent on various factors, such as issue,
context, and group loyalty.
... This anecdotal example illustrates how, in times of epidemic, individuals tend to isolate themselves in their own social coalitions (e.g., of religion and nationality), harassing strangers belonging to other groups (e.g., Jews) (Choi, Poertner, & Sambanis, 2019). This is part of the tribal nature of Homo sapiens and continues to be reflected today (Clark, Liu, Winegard, & Ditto, 2019;Schaller & Park, 2011). ...
... Regarding this tribal nature, it is emphasized that tribalism can be defined as intergroup conflict or, more precisely, as a tendency for cooperation between individuals forming coalitions that will compete with other groups for resources, territories, etc. (Clark et al., 2019). The coronavirus disease pandemic is fertile ground for the increase of such tribal behavior that manifests itself in humans in situations of risk of contamination (Schaller & Park, 2011;Troisi, 2020), since the context demands, between many imperatives, a permanent state of alert regarding the physical proximity of individuals. ...
... The coronavirus disease pandemic is fertile ground for the increase of such tribal behavior that manifests itself in humans in situations of risk of contamination (Schaller & Park, 2011;Troisi, 2020), since the context demands, between many imperatives, a permanent state of alert regarding the physical proximity of individuals. Avoiding contamination by infectious diseases that can be transmitted through social contact can be one of the adaptive functions of typical human tribal behavior (Clark et al., 2019;Schaller & Park, 2011). One of the adaptive benefits of this behavior is to decrease the chances of contagion, facilitating greater social withdrawal of individuals from rival coalitions (Blagov, 2020;Clark et al., 2019;Schaller & Park, 2011;Sorokowski et al., 2020). ...
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The Covid-19 pandemic may bring a series of specific individual, psychosocial, and political changes around the world. This is because human beings have a behavioral immune system that allows them to modify their behavior to avoid possible threats of contamination. It is known that outgroup individuals can be carriers of germs for which there are no immune agents to fight, and therefore, people tend to distance themselves from these individuals. This change in behavior can lead to greater xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and prejudice against social minorities, reflecting more conservative and authoritarian political directions. Thus, this article aimed at addressing, based on a theoretical framework, possible individual, social, and political consequences of the context caused by the pandemic. For this, studies on contamination risk and prevalence of pathogens in general will be discussed, as well as recent studies on Covid-19 and its individual and psychosocial consequences.
... These results are important and highly suggestive of the relevance of political tribalism (Clark et al., 2019) for the willingness to defend democratic accountability mechanisms. However, the evidence in Singer (2018) comes from observational surveys of political attitudes, which cannot eliminate the possibility that the preferences of voters against various mechanisms for horizontal and vertical accountability are causally prior to their party choice. ...
... Thus, citizens on the winning side of elections have no clear incentives to constrain the power of the executives as they act in their partisan interest (Singer, 2018). Moreover, these citizens are more likely to attribute benign intentions to the executive's actions, including reforms (Clark et al., 2019). As a result, citizens whose party governs are more likely to trade off democratic principles for having their team in charge of resource distribution. ...
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Winners and losers of elections have different stakes in protecting democratic institutions. We provide new evidence for the effects of partisanship and economic performance on support for checks and balances and acceptance of their infringement. Using survey data from 26 European countries, we show that voters who feel close to a political party that lost the elections support checks and balances significantly more than other citizens. We also find that higher satisfaction with the economy is associated with lower support for checks and balances. Our experiment in Ukraine shows that supporters and opponents of the governing party have divergent evaluations of a reform potentially infringing on the independence of the judiciary. Those in opposition find such reforms less acceptable and justified. Again, we find that improved economic performance leads to higher acceptance of judicial reform. Our results confirm that citizens’ support for checks and balances is contingent and volatile.
... Finally, politicians can fuel grievances by accentuating tribal identities. Research in political psychology suggests that people are group animals, and that this affects their (political) perceptions (Clark et al. 2019). Social identities and group attachments therefore figure crucially in peoples' political perceptions and behavior (Achen and Bartels 2017; Cramer 2016). ...
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As a vast literature on political disaffection, populism, "pitchfork politics," and the emergence of an "age of anger" testifies, the nature of democratic politics and the socio-political context in which it operates appear to have shifted sharply during the last decade. This is reflected in the rise of challenger parties, the election of unorthodox politicians, and widespread concern regarding the "crisis," "death," or "end" of democracy. Existing analyses have, however, understandably adopted a conventional model of party-based representative politics as their main interpretive lens or reference point to make sense of these changes. This article adopts a far bolder position. It suggests that a new form of "grievance politics" has emerged that constitutes a distinct and novel species of representative democracy. Grievance politics is defined by the fuelling and funneling of negative emotions and various blame-based political strategies which explicitly challenge and confound many of the core principles and values that have traditionally underpinned conventional conceptions of party politics. It is the tension between party politics and grievance politics-and their contemporary coexistence as competing modes of political representation-which this article seeks to underline and through this, to develop a clearer understanding of possible futures for representative democracy.
... Consistent with this reasoning, previous research has found that perceptions of group status threat, prejudice toward powerful groups, and perceptions of intergroup threat are all positively associated with the endorsement of conspiracy beliefs [39][40][41][42]. In line with classic social identity theorising [38], in particular when the outgroup is perceived as stigmatising J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f the ingroup of conspiracy believers [43], such enhanced intergroup hostility goes hand in hand with enhanced ingroup loyalty, cohesion and identification [44]-all contributing to a more positive ingroup identity. ...
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Can perceptions of economic inequalities trigger conspiratorial thinking? We provide evidence that high economic inequality may enhance conspiratorial thinking because, as a form of collective-level crisis, it undermines the social fabric of society and engenders anomie. We focus on the mechanism through which inequality should affect conspiratorial thinking by outlining how inequality enhances perceptions of anomie that, in turn, increase conspiratorial thinking. We end our contribution with the observation that it is by focusing on the socio-structural contexts that trigger conspiracy beliefs that we can more fully understand them. Specifically, conspiracy beliefs are not merely a product of individual irrationality, but are grounded in, and reflective of, the times that collectives live in.
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A large body of research points to differences in the communal orientation of people from a lower and higher socio-economic status (SES) background. However, direct evidence for differences in communal attitudes remains scant. In this pre-registered report, we test the hypothesis that SES impacts the incentive value of cues associated with bonding and social relations, thereby fostering differences in implicit and explicit communal attitudes. We further speculate that for people at the low end of the SES spectrum, the prevalence of discrimination, exclusion, and conflict means that relationships may have less of an incentive value. Thus, we hypothesise that the association between SES and communal attitudes follows a curvilinear trajectory and peaks at medium levels of SES. Testing these predictions in a dataset derived from the Attitudes, Identities, and Individual Differences (AIID) Study (Hussey, Hughes, & Nosek, 2018), we found no evidence supporting a linear or a curvilinear association between SES and communal attitudes. Instead, implicit and explicit communal attitudes did not vary across the SES spectrum. We discuss the implications of these findings and avenues for future research.
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Tribalism is frequently cited as a feature of today's Western societies, having negative connotations of divisiveness, hatred of the 'other' and a favouring of people who are 'like us'. And yet the idea of belonging to a tribe, of finding identity within a tribe, is also seen as a positive and even a necessary feature of modern life. Churches often seek to define their own identity, their values and ethos, and so cultivate a sense of belonging amongst their members, promoting these things as biblically based and necessary. In the light of tribalistic attitudes, questions must arise as to whether these ideas are biblically justifiable and desirable, and if there is a relationship between a sense of belonging to 'us' and a tribalistic antagonism towards 'them'. The study commences by reviewing the literature to define the scope of interest, and to describe the underlying causes of tribalism. Tribalism is seen as a largely subconscious problem which arises due to various psychological and social pressures. Belonging, identity, fear and epistemological concerns are discussed, and the concept of the neo-tribe is used as a helpful way of describing features of today's tribes. Having formed an understanding of tribalism and summarised the key features then we review the Christian church and select examples of how the church has been impacted by tribalism. The final part of the work provides a focussed biblical overview, to relate scriptural wisdom to the underlying psychological and social issues, and the study concludes by developing a set of three biblical sermons that specifically address the issues that face a Christian, to help them see and deal with the problems that may motivate a tribalistic attitude.
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This thesis aims to consider some of the differences between mindfulness as a Buddhist practice and mindfulness-based programs. The primary difference considered is the individualistic perspectives taken by mindfulness-based programs. If modern mindfulness-based techniques are meant as a treatment for depression, and depression is in part caused by isolation then these programs must also consider mindfulness as a project, which does not accentuate the self as distinct from others. Personal salvation from deficits of the mind is a regular theme of modern mindfulness. This initial goal-oriented, self-interested perspective is potentially threatening to a depressed person who secludes her- or himself in a private world of the “fix it” self-project. With interdependent origination (緣起) as a tenet and the sangha (僧) as one of the three jewels (三寶), Buddhism emphasizes community where salvation is defined as the liberation of all beings from suffering. Therefore, this thesis suggests that mindfulness practices initiated from a self-help perspective are troubled to the extent that they isolate the practitioner. Therefore, a Buddhist interpretation of modern mindfulness, especially regarding individualism and isolation as a cause of depression, is desirable.
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to deconstruct the term “tribalism” for its application to foster context and industry-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication system in Nigeria. Design/methodology/approach This research used both the qualitative and quantitative research methods of data collection; it is an in-depth survey with multiple data collection settings. Findings (1) There is a pattern of CSR communication across the three industries sampled. (2) CSR across three industrial sectors is much about “donation” and “gift”. (3) CSR functions are now in a stand-alone corporate communication department. (4) CSR communication lacks the participatory mechanism to really involve the host communities' concerns. (5) Across the four organizations, CSR communication is often as financial or annual reports. (6) There is a general feeling and understanding that CSR and corporate communication in corporate organizations in n Nigeria require a more participatory mechanism. (7) CSR policy in Nigeria is till much of legal enforcement and efforts to have a national CSR commission has gone beyond legislation process. Research limitations/implications This research was only able to collect data from four selected organizations representing just three industrial sectors (freight-forward, banking/finance and insurance) in Nigeria. There was no external funding to capture more organizations. Practical implications The first implication of the findings of this study is that, for the practice of CSR and communication by corporate organizations in Nigeria, the system is much a top-down and non-participatory. This means host communities and other stakeholders do not have considerable participation in the organization's CSR and communication process. The companies in this study select or budget for CSR interventions they consider valuable to communities in most cases. This pattern of CSR operation cuts across the four selected organizations in this study. Thus, it could be argued that this pattern is an industrial/national phenomenon because all the respondents indicated that their organizations operate CSR based on what other related companies do in Nigeria. Second, the fact that CSR and communication by corporate organizations in Nigeria are regulatory influenced means many organizations may try to evade CSR activities by not budgeting for it. Social implications Meanwhile, in this study, deconstructing the evolutionary perspective which sees tribe as a primitive form of organization and relation characterized by the absence of a centralized collaborative system, it is argued that tribalism can catalyze systemic participation and oneness. In line with this perspective, tribal corporate organizations in Nigeria would model an alliance for CSR and communication system on proximity of operational context, that is, Nigeria. Being part of a tribe, corporate organizations as against the public ones will represent an identity reference for social corporate communication in Nigeria. Originality/value Despite the theoretical problematic issues raised by the notion of tribe, it is deconstructed in this study to define modes of social organization, and it reflects native perceptions of a changing collective identity. Thus, it is also argued in this study, that there will be an increase in works on tribalism in organization communication and CSR in Nigeria as emerging business and global market will continue to shape the operation environment.
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