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Materialism: Rational and Psychological Perspectives

Land, water, food, energy, and shelter—scarce material resources are critical to the survival of any social group. Without securing scarce material resources for their group, group members may lose their capacity to satisfy their basic physical needs for nourishment and become susceptible to threats from their natural environment. Given the basic necessity of acquiring essential material resources, rational theories of intergroup materialism in social and political psychology propose that conflict arises between social groups when they must compete for the same scarce material resources. These theories assume that people are rational and engage in intergroup conflict and competition as a strategy for maximizing their group’s resource supply. Such a perspective is appealing because it can be intuitively applied to many real-world intergroup conflicts. For example, ...

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