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For the sake of the eternal group: Perceiving the group as a Trans-generational Entity and willingness to sacrifice ingroup members Dennis T. Kahn 1, Yechiel Klar 1 & Sonia Roccas 2 1 Tel Aviv University 2 Open University of Israel We focus on the extent to which social groups are perceived as Trans-generational Entities (TGE), including past and future generations of group members. We examined the utility of this construct in a series of studies focusing on perceptions of one’s own national group in the context of a violent conflict. In a first study (N=103), our measure of TGE correlated positively with Group Primacy, i. e. willingness to sacrifice members of the ingroup for the sake of the ingroup itself. Study 2 (N=119) showed that TGE was positively correlated to readiness for indefinite endurance of the sufferings experienced by the ingroup in an intergroup conflict. Study 3 (N=152), showed that a religious sample to a larger extent perceived the group as a TGE, showed a greater degree of Group Primacy and displayed more willingness to endure ingroup suffering as a result of intergroup conflict, as compared to the secular sample. Furthermore, perceiving the group as a trans-generational entity and supporting Group Primacy was shown to be related to an increased willingness to sacrifice the personal interests of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for the sake of Israeli national interests. "Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac. . . and offer him there for a burnt-offering” (Genesis 22: 2) Introduction and Hypotheses The study of group perception has produced a wealth of research in the last decade (Yzerbyt, Judd, & Corneille, 2004), most notably in the fields of entitativity (Campbell, 1958; Brewer & Harasty, 1996; Hamilton & Sherman, 1996; Lickel, Hamilton, Wieczokowska, Lewis, Sherman, & Uhles, 2000) and psychological essentialism (Haslam, 1998; Haslam, Rothschild & Ernst, 2000; Gelman, 2003). However, even though researchers across a wide range of social sciences consider the time dimension to be a crucial building block in the construction and maintenance of social identity (e. g. Anderson, 1991; Condor, 1996; Hobsbawn, 1990; Kohl & Fawcett, 1996; Reicher & Hopkins, 2001; Wertsch, 2002; Liu & Hilton, 2005), research on this component of group life has up until recently been virtually non-existent. One salient exception is Sani and colleagues who recently have constructed a scale of Perceived Collective Continuity (PCC), measuring the degree to which you perceive the national group to have remained the same across the centuries (Sani, Bowe, Herrera, Manna, Cossa, Miao & Zhou, 2007; Sani, F. , Herrera, M. , & Bowe, M. , 2009). In addition to being perceived as entitative (constituting an independent entity) and continuous (unchanged through history), we propose that large-scale social groups can be perceived as a Trans-generational Entities (TGEs). We define TGE as perceiving the group as an entity including all past and future generations of the group. TGE is measured with the help of a 5 -item scale including items such as “For me, my national group includes all the generations of group members that ever have and ever will exist“. We further propose that the degree to which you perceive the group as a TGE affects your attitudes regarding intergroup conflicts. If your commitment to the group lies with the group as a TGE rather than exclusively with the currently living group members, then you may under some circumstances be willing to sacrifice the interests of the currently living group members for the sake of the eternal group. We hypothesize that: 1. Groups can to a varying extent be perceived as Trans-generational Entities (TGE) 2. Seeing the group as a TGE is positively related to an increased willingness for sacrificing members of the ingroup for the sake of the ingroup itself 3. Seeing the group as a TGE is positively related to an increased readiness for indefinite endurance of the sufferings experienced by the ingroup in an intergroup conflict Method and Results Study 1 A measure for the concept of TGE was created and the hypothesized relations between variables in our model were tested. 103 Jewish-Israeli students completed a series of questionnaires, including: Trans-generational Entity (sample item: “For me, my national group includes all the generations of group members that ever have and ever will exist") Group Primacy (e. g. , “It is justified that members of my national group sometimes need to sacrifice themselves for the good of the group") Religiosity (“Please state your degree of religiosity”) Right Wing Political orientation (“To what degree are the opinions of the political right similar to yours? ”) All scales were measured on a likert-scale from 1 to 7 Consequences Antecedents Religiosity . 39**(. 28**) Right wing Political Orientation . 33**(. 35**) . 36**(. 39**) Group Primacy Trans-generational Entity . 24*(15 n. s. ) Study 2 (N=119) replicated the findings from study 1 and showed that TGE was positively correlated to an indefinite willingness to endure the sufferings involved in an intergroup conflict. Students at a preparatory program for Tel Aviv University completed the TGE and Group/Member Primacy Scales as well as a scale measuring: Conflict Endurance (e. g. “Even if the conflict will require present day suffering from us, we have to be ready to endure it for as long as it takes for the sake of the future of the group” Study 3 (N=152), showed that a religious sample perceived the national group as a TGE, showed a greater degree of group primacy and displayed more willingness to endure ingroup suffering as a result of an intergroup conflict, as compared to a secular sample. Perceiving the group as a trans-generational entity was related to an increased willingness to sacrifice the personal interests of a captured Israeli 3 soldier (Gilad Shalit) for the sake of Israeli national interests (sample item: “The people of Israel is morally justified to ask from Gilad Shalit's family to put the national interest before their personal interest”)The effect of TGE on willingness to 3 sacrifice the interests of Gilad Shalit for the sake of Israeli national interests was mediated by Group Primacy. 3 (. 33**) Conflict Endurance Figure 1: Standardized regression coefficients for the relation between antecedents and consequences of TGE, study 1 & 2. Results from study 2 are in parentheses. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is currently being held capture by the Palestinian militant organization Hamas and negotiations are being conducted to free Gilad Shalit in exchange for a high number of Palestinian prisoners. Group Primacy. 33** . 66** Trans-generational Entity . 27** (. 10) Willingness to sacrifice Gilad Shalit for the sake of the national group Figure 3: Standardized regression coefficients for the relationship between TGE and willingness to sacrifice Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for the sake of the national group as mediated by Group Primacy. The regression coefficient when controlled for Group Primacy is in parentheses. Figure 2: Means for the variables of TGE, Group Primacy and Conflict Endurance for a religious and a secular sample. Conclusions and References 3 The studies show that people differ in the extent to which they perceive their national group as a Trans-generational entity. TGE was found to be positively correlated to an increased willingness for sacrificing members of the ingroup for the sake of the ingroup itself and also to an increased readiness for indefinite endurance of the sufferings experienced by the ingroup as a consequence of intergroup conflict. 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