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Synopsis: On the occasion of the 2018 World Cup, a writer looked back at events from an earlier World Cup using the lens of social psychology. In the final game of the 2006 World Cup, French player Zidane and Italian player Materazzi exchange insults, and Zidane physically assault Materazzi. Social psychologists used to view conflicts like this as interpersonal problems. Then in the 1970s social psychologist, Henri Tajfel posited that conflict often has nothing to do with interpersonal relationships but is more often inspired by group affiliation. In many of the worst conflicts, such as war, group members behave aggressively toward members of opposing groups without relating to each other in terms of their individual personalities.
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