Experimental Social Psychology, Broader Contexts, and the Politics of Multiculturalism
This chapter contends that experimental social psychology — particularly that dealing with intergroup relations — is shaped by multicultural political sensibilities. Multiculturalism is based on the expectation of intergroup conflict, and as such is incompatible with individual-centered social psychological theories that emphasize individualism, integration, and assimilation. Given that political psychology uses experimental investigations based largely on college student samples, the field is not well situated to assess the external validity of multicultural- and individual-centered approaches. As an illustration, the chapter presents evidence indicating it is problematic to make universal claims of an “incompatibility” between ethnic and national identities, instead suggesting that the relationship between these identities is highly nuanced and contextualized. In conclusion, the chapter suggests that cross-talk between psychology and political science may be helpful in overcoming these difficulties, providing a healthy, generative stimulus for the development of the field as a whole.
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