Realistic Conflict Theory and You: How Ingress Divides Us
In the summer of 1954 a University of Oklahoma study commenced with the transport of 22 young boys, divided into two groups of 11, to a Boy Scouts of America camp in Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma.
The study's purpose was simple: to test out burgeoning hypotheses surrounding intergroup relations. These can be succinctly paraphrased as follows:1)
When people with no preexisting relationships are brought together for the sake of completing common goals, they form a hierarchical social structure.2)
If two such groups are pitted against one another in competition, negative attitudes about the opposing group will come about and become standardized.
Sound familiar? 😁
In the ensuing days, the two groups self-assigned team names -- the Rattlers and the Eagles -- and were set to a variety of competitive tasks. Their relationship to one another evolved fairly predictably, with both groups demonizing one another in increasingly aggressive ways.
The researchers then set about defusing the situation through attempts to integrate the two groups with shared events. These endeavors had little to no effect; Fights broke out. It was only when superordinate goals were introduced -- survival-oriented problems that could only be solved through cooperation between the two groups -- that tensions eventually eased.What's my point?
Ingress has been a positive influence on many people, myself included. The benefits have been enumerated countless times; I won't rehash them all here.
Yet despite all of the benefits, for many the game produces a powerful yet widely-unacknowledged psychological effect. Demonization of opponents is typical on both sides, even amongst those who should know better. Overgeneralization is common and always disappointing.
Always remember the other side's players are your opponents, not your enemies.
Always remember there are both marvelous and terrible people on all sides, in every subculture.
Always remember that you, too, are susceptible to irrationally despising people with whom you share a love of triangles.
Keep it classy, agents.
(For more on Realistic Conflict Theory: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realistic_conflict_theory