New Scientist this week

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Thu May 16 2002 - 21:42:26 BST

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    Hi Alan,

    I bought the issue specifically for those articles, and the Evo Psych in
    particular. I do think Evo Psych has a place in the study of human
    behaviour, but if you go too far you end up with people as robots.
    Responders to situations with little or no volition.

    Social Identity Theory can explain the situation in Israel just (probably!)
    as readily.

    Comprises four parts.

    (i) Individuals strive to maintain or achieve a positive social identity.

    (ii) Membership in groups contributes to and individuals social identity.

    (iii) Evaluation of an individuals own group is based upon a social
    comparison with other groups.

    (iv) A positive social identity is based upon favourable comparisons.

    Apply these to both the Israeli's and Palestinian's and you get a
    description of the conflict. It doesn't explain how the conflict came into
    being, just how it becomes prolonged.

    Applying SIT to the Palestinian's

    (i) Trying to achieve a positive id. The only id that says you are worth
    something in this situation are people like Hamas etc. Belief in the Koran
    and an afterlife to compensate for this one.

    (ii) Hence people are prepared to join or condone groups such as Hamas (Who
    also do a lot of relief work as well).

    (iii) The Palestinian's see how the Israeli's live. Their military power
    etc, so they se themselves as victims, and victims usually want some

    (iv) Try and maintain a positive social id in their situation!

    Now try it with Israeli's.

    (i) They do have a positive id, but to my mind it has the negative
    connotations of 'never again'. I.e no more going meekly to their death.

    (ii) Israel, not surprisingly, has a fairly well developed defensive social
    id, and who could blame them ?

    (iii) Israeli's can look to their neighbours and have few comparable groups
    with which to compare. The nearest they can come is looking to Europe or the
    USA even though they are not too comparable on the ground.

    (iv) Israel's positive id is distorted by being the only regional 'super'
    power and having the backing of the US

    This is not a polemic against Israel. If it were the playground I would

    The one thing I learned in Conflict Resolution is that the positives need to
    be accentuated. Just got to find them now.

    Secondly, by moving the debate from the Evo Psych to one of social identity
    it becomes more memetic in character.

    The Alpha article was interesting as well.



    > Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 16:04:56 -0400
    > From: "Alan Patrick" <>
    > Subject: New Scientist this week
    > Articles on species prediusposition for killing, and Israeli situation in
    > that light. Comments?
    > Alan

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