For a lot of us the groups to which we belong define who we are. For Harry Potter joining Gryffindor House and becoming a Hogwart's student are some of the most important things in his life. However, groups can also be the source of great conflict. These memberships change the way Harry defines himself and are a source of self esteem. Still, there are consequences in identifying with one group over another, as clearly seen at Hogwarts.

Research on social identity theory has found that once people are divided into groups--even randomly divided by the toss of a coin--they start to show remarkable favoritism to their own group members. They may not know the characteristics, qualities, or experiences of the people in their group. Intergroup tensions are increased when group members utilize stereotypes, overgeneralizations or beliefs that every member of a group shares similar characteristics. But more often than not, stereotypic overgeneralizations lead us to incorrect conclusions about people based on their group memberships.

Increasing direct contact between conflicting groups is a critical factor in eliminating stereotypes, predjudice, and discrimination..an idea known as contact hypothesis. But this only works when all group members receive the same treatment and the group must have a common goal.

In a study highlighting intergroup contact, a summer camp divided all the kids into two groups, the rattlers and the eagles. A tournament was arranged which immediately increased hostility between the groups. Even if children had been friends before camp, group membership seemed to take precedence over past friendships. To reduce this group conflict, superordinate goals were introduced that required the campers to work together and ignore group distinctions in order to be successful. For example, on one trip, researchers staged the bus breaking down, all of the campers, regardless of group, worked together to push and pull their bus back to their campground. Another goal was introduced when researchers staged a problem with the camp's water supply and campers had to work together to restore their access to water. By the end of camp, true friendships formed across group lines.

just some information i thought i would share \:\)