Sports and politics: How strong is group identity? | Ezra Klein | Big Think


I think it’s important that people’s theories
of politics are built on a foundation of a theory about human nature or some rigorous
empirics about human nature. And something that I think we do a bad job
understanding is the way the psychology of identity and group affiliation function in
politics. We tend to suggest that identity politics
is something that only marginalized groups do and in fact it’s something we all do,
all politics all the time is influenced by identity. In the 1930s and ‘40s a guy named Henri
Tajfel, he was a Polish Jew, moved from Poland to France. He moved from Poland to France because in
Poland he couldn’t go to university because he was Jewish, in France he enlists in World
War II. He’s captured by the Germans, but he’s
understood by the Germans as a French prisoner of war so he survives the war. When he’s released all of his family has
been killed in the holocaust and he would have been killed as well if they had understood
him to be a Polish Jew and not a French soldier. And he begins thinking and obsessing about
these questions of identity what makes human beings sort each other into groups? Why when they sort each other into groups
do they become so easily hostile to one another? And what does it take to sort into a group? What are the minimum levels of connection
we need to have with each other to understand ourselves as part of a group and not individuals? So, he begins doing a set of experience that
are now known as the minimum viable group paradigm. And it’s a bit of an ironic term for reasons
that I will get to you in a second, but he gets 64 kids from all the same school and
he brings them in and he says you know we need you to do an experiment, could you look
at this screen and tell many how many dots are on it just real quick do an estimation. And then researcher are busily scoring the
work and deciding if the kids overestimated or underestimated. Then the researchers say hey while we’ve
got you here would you mind doing another experiment with us not related to the first
one in any way? We’re just going to sort you into two groups
people who overestimated the number of dots and the people who underestimated them, but
a different experiment. Don’t worry about it. In truth this sorting is completely random,
it had nothing to do with dots, nobody cared how many dots anybody estimated. But immediately in this new experiment, which
has to do with money allocation, the kids begin allocating more money, which they’re
not allocating to themselves it’s only to other people. They begin allocating more money to their
co-dot over or under estimators. And this was a surprise because the way this
experiment was supposed to work was Tajfel and his co-authors we’re going to sort people
into groups but not enough that they would begin to act like a groups and they were going
to begin adding conditions to see at what point group identity took hold. But even Tajfel, who had gone through such
a searing traumatic horrifying experience with how easily and how powerfully group identity
takes hold, he underestimated it, he felt this would be underneath the line almost like
a control group, but it was already over the line. This experiment was replicated by him in other
ways and in other ways that actually showed not only would people favor members of their
group but they would actually discriminate against the outgroup, they would prefer that
everybody gets less so long as the difference between what their group and the other group
got was larger. And again, these groups are meaningless and
random even atop their meaninglessness. But look around, think about sports, think
about how angry people get, how invested they get in their identity connection to a team
that often times has no loyalty back to them that will move if it doesn’t get a stadium
tax break or players will leave if they get a better deal, but we get so invested in our
local team and what it says about our identity and the group we’re part of as fans of that
team that in the aftermath of losses and wins we will riot, we will set things on fire,
we will go on emotional roller coasters, we will cry, we will scream, we will listen endlessly
to analysis of it. We’re not there for the sportsmanship, we’re
there for the winning or losing, we’re there for that connection to group psychology that
is played out through sports and competition. This is true in politics as well as we sort
into groups as those steaks rise and become in many cases life and death as many different
groups connect to one another, you’re not just a Democrat but you’re a Democrat and
also you live in cities and also you’re gay and also you’re an atheist and so on,
those things all begin to fuse together; it becomes worth the political scientist Lilliana
Mason calls a mega identity. And when you’re dealing with two groups
that are that sharply distinguished from each other and where the stakes are very, very
high the power of that group identity and the power of the hostility to the other group
becomes basically overwhelming. From a lot of different experiments we know
this is a much larger driver of political behavior than even policy. We will follow parties and leaders around
to policies that we didn’t believe them to have just recently, I mean look at Republicans
and Russia for instance, but what we will not do is change our group affiliation, certainly
not easily. So, group identity is a fundamental fact about
politics and it’s a fundamental fact not just to the politics of marginalized groups
but of majoritarian groups. An irony of our age is that we see identity
politics more clearly now, not because it is stronger but because it is weaker. There is no one identity group with the power
to fully dominate politics and so now that different groups are contesting they’re
all putting forward claims, they’re all fighting for control, we can see that there
is identity in our politics, but there always was it’s just that when one group is strong
enough they’re able to make that identity almost invisible and just call it politics.

57 thoughts on “Sports and politics: How strong is group identity? | Ezra Klein | Big Think

  1. Are you a sheep in a flock of followers? What happened to independant thinking and decision making? I was a Progressive and God told me to vote for Trump. My friends left me. Group identity at work.

  2. You have to look f**** at Social inclusion you have to look at genetics have to look at epigenetics you have to look at life experiences all kinds of factors social psychology is legit to a certain point but it doesn't have deeper logical levels
    Plus you're born into a hegemony and plus you can have all kinds of other hegemony's like you say group identities or people that like particular things some people like red some people like blue some people like green
    There are all these deeper logical layers
    One thing we all may have perhaps is survival in that instinct to want to protect or the belong
    Or relate or what the f*** ever
    Don't assume it's free will

  3. Ezra Klein of Vox lecturing about identity politics. He is a prime example of how a dishonest, partisan, Trump Derangement Syndrome affected person talks. No thanks.

  4. this is so true hey. like they are these elite group of people are using Technics to manipulate the masses for their own benefits. it is time for society to wake up.

  5. All i heard was people who get invested in sports teams are idiots and i agree. The rest of the crap he said who knows

  6. Old idea becomes salient to writer referencing ancient studies on a very well-understood and researched topic, to provide barely a surface-level account of the phenomena, mapping sport group affinity to political out-group conflict in today’s US. Ok. There’s an entire iceberg of nuance that’d have been interesting to get into but as long as you point out that humans’ group preference can overcome critical thinking, sure – politics as a team sport haha what a novel idea!

  7. Why only sports and politics? he brushes over religion but barely acknowledges its influence. What about race/culture and religion as major groups for many people?
    If anything political is a secondary group for many people, they follow a certain party because they already belong to a certain group.
    So often you see that political leanings are heavily influenced by religion. Walk into any church /mosque / whatever and you and almost guaranteed that everyone in that place follow the same political ideology and probably the same political party, especially in countries where religion is such a major part of someones identity like America.
    Race/culture seems to vary based on the size of that group. The smaller the group is the more impact it seems to have. For example, white people in America are all over the place politically, but racial minorities are overwhelmingly in the same party.

  8. It's annoying that he seems to skip an important part.
    He mentions separating the groups, and then goes right into talking about how they handed out money. He skipped the explanation of what the kids were told to do that was the reasoning behind how they give out money. That's actually kind of important.

  9. I've been deep in Buddhism and don't have strong group sense and am loner but never was successful in life so maybe grouping is good for success.

  10. I base my political opinions on values.
    The only reason to take shelter into identity politics is because another group want to obliterate OR assimilatie you OR your group.
    If this is not so or imagined you are most likely programmed and lack critcal thinking. And lack of valueing yourself as an individuals.

  11. This guy, on a podcast, actually called out the host for not having enough/similar numbers of black intellectuals as white ones as guests. That's all you need to know about his kind of arguments and how low he's willing to go to score some points with the woke movement.

  12. I think I understand. People want to belong, to be apart of something, to not be alone. We fear being alone more than we fear death. It's our most basic human survival trait. We'll even indor abuse from those we love just to avoid being alone. A atheist will get down on his knees, and pray to God for help, in hope that he doesn't have to face uncertainty all alone.
    Is it a bad thing? At one time it was a critical survival tool, one that we still use today. As much as we like to think we are self-sustaining, in reality we are dependent on each other, and what we can for one another. A baby left alone will die, and the same goes for the old. We need these connections to give us identity, to tell us who we are. I am human, because I was told I was human, how else would I know if there were no one else?
    Does identity go beyond what we see? Is how I see myself as important as how I see the world. I call myself human, but what if i don't like being human? Can I change my reality, or am I stuck being that which I despise? If there are things about the world I don't like, can I change them? Should I change them? Do I have the right to? Can the same be said for myself, or is how the world sees me more important than how I see myself?
    We are apart of the world as long as we believe we are, and what we believe henges on how connected we feel with the things around us. I am human, because I feel human. When we are surrounded by those who feel like us, we are connected, and through that connection, I am me.

  13. Why do so many people come to this channel just to down vote the videos? They're obviously subscribed with notifications turned on. They sure do put a lot of effort into something they hate.

  14. Tribal societies are awfully weak in energy, because they have no concentrated sense of identity, they spend all their time fighting each other.

  15. Groundbreaking, revolutionary, astonishing… buzzword buzzword buzzword etc

    All you've done here is describe tribalism, humanity hasn't been consciously or even unconsciously aware of this for… when did humanity begin again??

  16. You what's the issue both the right and the left have good points the right craves order which is good for a society because it creates order law and courts and the left craves creativity which usually comes from disorder but produces innovation which is good for the economy. On every subject they held the same values both have points but they need to compromise and if they yell at each other Lock her up and those deplorables you'll never listen to each other's issues which usually overlap and you'll tear the US apart .

  17. Interesting tidbits but fails to demonstrate the conclusion "identity politics exists in the majority, but it's just called politics"

  18. Have to wonder how many of those down votes are from people thinking "No, THOSE people engage in identity politics, not US."

  19. I feel like people are just disliking this video cause they’re like derrrr he disagreed with Sam Harris that one time lol

  20. Yes children do this, adults dont, at least if they have matured to actual adults that are able to separate beliefs, actions and ideas away from the person. IE just because i believe in capitalism doesnt mean i automatically support other people who call themselves capitalists nor do i hate everyone who calls themselves a socialist.

    You need to be able to separate the beliefs, actions and ideas away from who the person is and deal with the person as an individual who has their set of ideas, who doesnt deffine them.

    Just because i like reading books doesnt mean i agree with everyone else who likes reading books even though you could call us a group with a group identity, adults dont see this, children do because it takes a larger cognitive ability then children generally possess and most adults should possess.

    I also find it interesting that you choose a study about children, where we know this will emerge, and not in a group of adults where this almost never emerges, a bit dishonest of you Ezra.

  21. As a huge opponent of identity politics, I thought this was great… didn’t offer a solution, but gave insightful commentary on the WHY

  22. And this man exploits group identity and unconcientious people with his Vox platform, which used to show what the mainstream media was afraid to show (war, talking to drug users, hard no-win issues) but now just produces nihilistic nonsense like how being poliarmourous is just like, hot man…

  23. Well I am in the group of people who use rational logic and measured studies to base conclusions and plan actions on. If you want to consider that some type of prejudice group, well than I guess I fit the model. I will however point out that magical thinking and irrational actions are not very productive.

  24. No mention of the *ORIGINAL* group identity? Figures.
    "A careful study of anti-semitism, prejudice, and accusations might be of great value to many Jews, who do not adequately realize the irritations they inflict." -HG Wells.

  25. Interesting idea. This explains the responses I had in the 2007 Patriot Forums trying to understand my political opps views. They would accept the facts, but when the conclusion went against their ideology they would reject it and give ideology as the reason. Current Republican actions contradict those ideological values, yet I don't see them stand up for them now! Sounds like Lemmings. Ironically Americans used to like thinking of themselves as strong individualists. We are showing that we aren't any better and perhaps worse than any other group around the world.

  26. I wonder how far down this rabbit hole of being in a group is gonna go? It's insane. If ur not in a group ur judged negatively. I was over & over again asked to join a poetry group, then when I would contact them I was regected. I found this old ugly pathetic man spent years getting this group to regect me after convincing me to email them to join.. to be mean to me. It was incredibly stupid. I did 😊 really wanna join I'm not into groups of any kind only to meet publishers was I interested. He didn't hurt my feelings and eventually the people from.the group came to appologized very awkwardly. It was incredibly stupid. I think politics is the only place groups should exist after college!

  27. Wow. Lot of people dismissing this video and the ideas because of whoever this guy is. Hate to be the one to tell you, but you're kinda proving his point.

  28. Can't buy this analysis. For the simple fact as the saying goes, "perception is reality" if people believe they are somehow connected no matter how nebulous that connection may be this is justification for most people to join together.

  29. i can't hear anything he says. Is he afraid of waking his parents up?
    talks too fast, doesn't articulate, he breathes OUT all his air and THEN he starts talking on the last 10ml of air in his lungs. Does he think he's going to live longer that way?

  30. The Genesis of identitarianism in Western Culture:

    Deuteronomy 7 : 5-6
    "This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altar, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.

    For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession."

  31. Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind" covers identity politics very well. Also check out his TED Talk called "The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives."

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