1. Nature of Beliefs.- Epistemological Basis of Beliefs.- Meaning of Beliefs.- Characteristics of Beliefs.- Summary.- 2. Historical Perspective on Shared Beliefs.- The Superindividual Integrity of Common Beliefs.- Common Beliefs as Products of Group Members.- Summary.- 3. The Conception of Group Beliefs.- Definition of Group Beliefs.- Group Beliefs and Group Definitions.- Identification of Group Beliefs.- Summary.- 4. Contents and Characteristics of Group Beliefs.- of Group Beliefs.- Characteristics of Group Beliefs.- Summary.- 5. Formation and Maintenance of Group Beliefs.- Formation of the Fundamental Group Belief.- Formation of Additional Group Beliefs.- Dissemination of Group Beliefs.- Maintenance of Group Beliefs.- Extension of Group Membership.- Summary.- 6. Group Beliefs and Group Changes.- Mergence of Groups.- Subgrouping.- Change of Group Beliefs.- Group Schism.- Disintegration.- Summary.- 7. Case One: German Delegitimizing Beliefs About Jews-1933-1945.- Delegitimization.- A Process of Delegitimizing Jews-1933-1945.- of German Delegitimizing Beliefs About Jews.- German Delegitimizing Beliefs as Group Beliefs.- The Cultural Background of Delegitimization.- Spreading the Delegitimizing Beliefs.- Functions of Delegitimizing Beliefs.- Summary.- 8. Implications.- Group Beliefs and Groups.- Group Beliefs and Social Cognition.- Conclusions.- Postscript.- Group of Scientists.- Scientists' Group Beliefs.- Changes of Scientists' Group Beliefs.- Conclusions.- References.- Author Index.
"Individuals who live in groups hold common beliefs which define their reality, not only as persons, but also as group members. This reality becomes especially important when group members become aware that they share beliefs and are convinced that these beliefs characterize them as a group. In this case common beliefs become group beliefs." With this statement, Dr. Bar-Tal begins his far-reaching analysis of beliefs as a group phenomenon. Group beliefs are shown to have important behavioral, cognitive, and affective implications for group members and the group as a whole. They may contribute to the behavioral direction a group takes, coordinate group activities, determine the intensity and involvement of group members, and influence the way group members affect the leaders. This book introduces and articulates the implications of a new concept of group beliefs, shedding new light on the structure and processes of groups, focusing on such phenomena as group formation, subgrouping, splits, mergence and group disintegration. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, this integrative conception opens new avenues to the study and understanding of group behavior.
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