Fundamentals of Social Psychology

Chapter 26: Group Loyalty

Emory S. Bogardus

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LOYALTY is one of the most important products of intersocial stimulation. In its essence it is love. A person can find out what his loyalties are by asking himself the question : What am I willing to sacrifice for?

Loyalty is engendered by the recognition of benefits received. An immigrant will be loyal to his homeland if it represents social values, sacred memories, loved ones. He acquires loyalty to a new country to the extent that it treats him well, in wages, a home, promotion, protection, friendship. If we are benefited by something, we tend to develop a loyalty to that thing. If it be inanimate, we personify it, think of it in terms of a social relationship, hold communion with it, and imagine social interactions.

Group loyalty is wholly natural since human beings are group made as well as self made. They are inherently social, and behind the most anti-social actions there may be group influences. It is chiefly in the play-day of childhood that group loyalties are stimulated in human beings. In associating with parents, and particularly with other children, the child experiences the growth of his social nature, or of social personality. Through such association, the spirit of appreciation is developed. The individual learns that others have feelings, desires, problems, sufferings which are similar to his own. In consequence, social attitudes are formulated, group loyalties arise, and socially harmonious actions follow.

Some loyalties the child experiences indirectly, such as loyalty to parents, without appreciating them fully until many years have passed, or perhaps never. When crises come, accidents, severe illnesses, then one becomes aware of his loyalties. When something is in danger then one's loyalty to it is easily tested.

Group loyalty has one of its best known expressions in patriotism. "An abiding affection for the fatherland and for principles of liberty, of opportunity, and of fraternity which the group may have worked out represent the highest social appraisals,"[1] and hence the highest group loyalties. By studying patriotism we may obtain a clear insight into the

( 303) nature of group loyalty, which however, ranges all the way from family loyalty, "gang" loyalty, college loyalty, to national and perhaps world loyalty.


Patriotism is a form of group loyalty. It is the response which is excited by an attack upon the group values. It is a complex sentiment, compounded largely of feelings and desires for security, but tempered as personality develops by an increasing degree of cognition and a thoughtful interpretation of group values.

Patriotism is as old as human affection. It originally was love of family or more particularly loyalty to the pater, or the patriarchal head of the family. At one time in its evolution patriotism was synonymous with patriarchalism and with familism. Again, it was love of home; at another time, love of clan. In the days of Abraham, it was loyalty to Abraham and his household. Among mountaineers to-day patriotism is clan loyalty. In the hey-day of tribal society, patriotism was loyalty to the tribe; it was tribalism. Among the Bantus, patriotism is Bantu-loyalty. Among the Iroquois, patriotism was loyalty to the Confederacy.

With the rise of the civil state, patriotism became nationalism. To-day among civilized peoples patriotism is almost synonymous with loyalty to the nation. It is a sentiment which manifests a deep attachment to geographic territory, national symbols, heroes, and traditions. The Psalmist illustrated the force of patriotism when he declared : [2]

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Patriotism is also loyalty to patria—by birth or by adoption. A person identifies his life with that of his country. He becomes an integral and controlling factor in its aims and activities. In time of war patriotism sets afire his desires for new experience and for recognition. Patriotism appeals to his social nature, and satisfies his desire for security. It enables him to expand beyond the limitations of his personality and to identify himself with interests which are larger and more important than his own.

Under national patriotism, familism continues. He who is not loyal to his family scarcely knows how to be loyal to his nation. If one is not

( 304) true to a small social unit, how can he be faithful to a large collectivity? .National loyalty, on the other hand, that has no room for family loyalty or any of the other primary group loyalties is entirely unworthy.

Under nationalism, tribalism in modified forms, also has a place. It takes the form of loyalty to local community, city, province, or state. Community loyalty is necessary in the building of a strong nation-state, otherwise there would be too great a hiatus between the national structure and the family groups. The national roof must be sustained by large, permanent pillars as well as by many small supports. Familism and communityism take subordinate but vital places in nationalism.

The most powerful and overwhelming type of group loyalty that has yet developed is that form of national patriotism which arises in connection with national defense and national attack. At first it is usually highly emotional and charged with electrical feelings, and hence apt to be irrational and crowd-minded. It listens to no arguments, and jails dissenters.

Group loyalty easily becomes group egocentrism.[3] The emphasis is easily placed on my fraternity, my church, my business. The group itself often acts egotistically in dealing with other groups, e.g., one religious denomination with another, one type of business with a competing type. Group egotism is fatal to the development of broad sympathies and co-operation. It is one of democracy's greatest foes.[4]


The members of a nation-group may be classified under one or more of several headings regarding their national loyalty. There are many brands and grades of nationalism, or nation-group loyalties.

1. Pugnacious patriotism is an over-development of the combative impulses. There are persons who are habitually on the lookout for trouble. As some are fussy about their personal dignity, and imagine themselves slighted under almost any circumstances, so there are those who are provincial in imagining or magnifying national provocations. Many persons are willing to rush their country into war upon the slightest excuse. If an American in a foreign country has been insulted or killed—regardless of his guilt—these pugnacious persons would have their country declare

( 305) war immediately. Jingoists abound. Combative patriotism does not wait for an investigation of causal circumstances. It works continuously for an aggressive foreign policy; it is impatient with negotiation, and is prejudiced and irrational.

2. Professional patriotism characterizes many of the military and naval classes. It is valuable in a society where force predominates. Its weakness is its tendency toward arrogance, hard-heartedness, and an exaggerated desire for recognition. The promotion ambition is illustrated in the extreme case of the officer who some years ago expressed a hope that the United States would declare war upon Panama, after Panama had committed a slight breach of courtesy. When asked for his reasons, he candidly replied : "Because my chances for promotion would be greatly increased."

3. Profiteering patriotism raises its blasé features in spite of the need for war sacrifices. After the entry of the United States into the World War, the cry was raised, "Business as usual." But everyone knew that if the war was to be won, business could not go on as usual. Before the United States declared war, the dividends of certain companies which were manufacturing war materials rose rapidly, and after our war declaration, the war profits of these firms created millionaires. One American openly and shamelessly boasted : "This war has surely been a fine thing for me. If it lasts two years, I will have made enough money to live in leisure the rest of my life." While 70,000 American soldiers were giving up their lives during the war, it is estimated that 18,000 American millionaires were made.

Another profiteering patriot sold to the government shoddy clothing for the soldiers and sailors. Still another set up wooden images of the Kaiser, and playing upon the war feelings of the passers-by, invited them to "Swat the Kaiser"—for ten cents a throw. A theater owner subscribed heavily to one of the war funds and then advertised that fact widely. His theater drew unusually large crowds of people, who felt that they should patronize such an unusually generous proprietor and "patriot." The profiteer hoists the flag, but locks up coal in his mines while women and children suffer from the cold. He buys up foodstuffs and holds them while prices rise and people starve.

4. Faddish patriotism gives benefit "teas" in war time, despite the fact that such affairs provide an unnecessary fourth meal. A young woman who wore a service star was found to have no nearer relative in the World War than a cousin whom she had never seen. She easily justified to

( 306) herself this action on the grounds that "all the other girls were wearing service stars." In certain cases the carrying of flags upon the front of automobiles is faddish patriotism. Shortly after the United States declared war in 1917, as high as forty per cent of automobiles in some communities carried flags, but six months later the proportion fell to less than five per cent. In the meantime, however, the real patriotism of the people had greatly increased.

5. Patriotism is sometimes adveuturesome. It appeals to the desire for new experience. The slogan "Join the navy and see the world," recognizes this adventuresome element. In the World War there were many young men who volunteered, stating that they were moved strongly by the desire to go abroad and see "the sights," and who were willing to risk returning alive.

6. Conspicuous patriotism exhausts itself in applauding the flag or in patriotic statements, but whines when asked to observe meatless days and to refrain from using wheat bread. It carries the flag, but secretly encourages profiteering and self-indulgence. It is generally hypocritical; it evaporates in patriotic statements. The conspicuous patriot loudly abuses others for not going to war—when he knows that he can remain safe at home.

7. Pacific patriotism is two-fold. (1) There are group members who believe in peace at any price. As practical citizens they are mistaken and sometimes dangerous. It is necessary in times of group crises to be willing to fight to save those social values which the group through the slow process of time has acquired. As long as powerful national wolves are loose in the world, it is folly to believe in peace at any price. In such a case a nation may be called on to fight not only for itself but for the values which civilization has slowly and painfully constructed. Peace-at-any-price individuals possess a willingness to undergo hardships and even to die for the principles they represent. They frequently possess those fine moral qualities which cannot be found in the loyal but truculent chauvinist.

(2) The other type of pacifist patriot tries all honorable methods of solving international controversies before resorting to war. In ordinary peace times most Americans would come within this category. Such persons believe in the principles of peace rather than of war as means of progress. In time of war, however, such a declaration is likely to be grossly misunderstood. At such a time any type of pacifist is anathema.

8. Provincial patriotism magnifies and places the interests of one section of the country ahead of the welfare of the whole nation. It measures

( 307) long distances with the yard-stick that it uses in its own provincial area. It opposed the Louisiana Purchase and the acquisition of the Philippines. It would settle the Japanese problem in the United States irrespective of international justice. It would prevent our nation from functioning fully in the League of Nations. Today, as in the time of Epaminondas, there are too many provincial patriots.

9. Chauvinistic patriotism is boastful loyalty; it is dominated by watchwords and phrases. It is the direct descendant of the boastful attitudes of lower races. It wildly shouts "My country, right or wrong," when its country may be already on the rocks of greed and injustice. It forgets that the slogan, "My country, right or wrong," made Germany a menace to the world. It does not possess the courage to face national evils and to assist constructively in righting maladjustments, thereby strengthening the nation.

10. True national patriotism, is based on the belief that there must be nation-groups as necessary intermediate structures between the family and the community on one hand and the world order on the other. One comes to love his native land, even though its faults may be many. Wherever one finds food and shelter and kindly ministrations, one feels patriotic.

True national patriotism is national love divorced from all narrow desires. It urges that one's nation group play a rôle of wholesomeness in the world. It is expressed not only in exciting war times, but in the most monotonous days of peace. True patriotism functions in both peace and war, but it is far more difficult to be patriotic in peace than in war. In the routine days of the work-a-day world, private interests press forward and command attention. As a result, a person forgets to go to the polls, neglects to study the merits of candidates, fails to keep in touch with his representatives in legislative and administrative positions—in short, to be fully patriotic.

11. Super-patriotism is a high order of true national patriotism. It gives all for the sake of its nation when the nation is fighting righteously. Super-patriots include the Joan of Arcs and the Nathaniel Hales, the heroes of Zeebrugge and the Argonne, and the unknown, brave mothers and fathers who have given up sons and daughters anywhere in a worthy cause.


Besides loyalty to family, to community, to nation-state, the trend of social evolution is producing another type of group loyalty—internation-

( 308) -alism. The world is on the verge of forming an international consciousness and a sense of planetary values. President Wilson's famous pleas for world-wide democracy and the organization of the friendship of the world are forerunners of the rise of a new world society.

International loyalties are illustrated by two leading types. (I) Industrial internationalism holds that the industrial classes throughout all countries should organize in a world order and renounce the existing national governments as being the tools of capitalism. Industrial inter-nationalism is an outgrowth of Marxian socialism and is closely allied to Communism. Industrial internationalism fails to recognize that its program runs counter to the laws of social evolution and of democratic growth. No stable international order can be built on class consciousness alone. A permanent world structure cannot be suspended in mid-air, supported chiefly by personal, familial, or communal units.

(2) Democratic internationalism is scientifically founded. Upon persons, the family rests. Upon family groups, the community, city, or province depends. Upon persons, families, and communities, the nation relies. Upon all these constituent elements, and only so, an enduring world organization can be constructed. Ordinarily family loyalty fits harmoniously into national loyalty, without disrupting or weakening the former. Similarly, there is no reason why national loyalty should suffer by locating it properly within the boundaries of democratic internationalism. A person who has learned rational loyalty to his nation will be no less a national patriot by catching a vision of the larger internationalism. Democratic internationalism is built upon the highest virtues and the best moral characteristics of the nation. It recognizes that points of view naturally vary in different national habitats. It promotes the principles : Come, let us reason together.

Democratic internationalism would dignify nationalism and make it a nobler sentiment. It would end economic conflict between nations for the same reason that such conflicts were stopped between the colonies when the United States was formed.[5] It would eventually raze military and naval harriers between nations on the same basis that it has never been necessary to separate the United States from Canada by fortifications and dreadnoughts.

Planetary good feeling will develop concomitantly with an enlarged means of communication and a world-wide cultural uniformity. While commerce and religion have strong international organizations, education

( 309) is still represented on a world scale only by international congresses on various subjects.


Hyphenism is double loyalty or loyalty to two groups in the same class, such as national groups. If a person is living in and being protected by one nation group but feels more loyalty to some other nation, he is guilty of hyphenism. Immigrants from advanced countries often find it difficult to give up their loyalty to the homeland. The loyalty of an English or German immigrant to his native land is apt to persist for many years. His problem of giving up a loyalty to one country is one of the hardest that faces any person. He probably cannot give up wholly the homeland loyalty, especially if his childhood days in the home country have been happy, and if his parents or other loved ones lie buried there. When a man marries he does not give up his loyalty to his mother, and should not. The loyalty to the original home group may remain in the form of a sacred memory.

National hyphenism is likely to take dangerous forms in war times. The loyalty to an "enemy" country may lead one to furnish valuable information to that country. Hyphenism easily produces spies. It leads to treason, which is owing loyalty to one group, while surreptitiously supporting an opposing group. The pretense of a loyalty which is false makes treason especially despicable. A modified form of treason is shown by the profiteer, by the revolutionary propagandist in a democracy, by anyone who publicly professes a love for democracy and justice but who in business or privately violates laws or connives at exploitation.


Philosophy and religion have formulated still more comprehensive group loyalties. Philosophy has often projected a loyalty to the universe, but this loses its richest quality when it becomes materialistic or impersonal. When personality is entirely removed from any set of group values it fails to possess a wide appeal.

Christianity has dared to project a loyalty which includes not only the present world group, but also that unnumbered host who have run well and finished this earthly course, in fact, a vast society of which the living earthly group is but a manifestation. Christianity has been so radical that unto familism, tribalism, nationalism, internationalism, it has added universalism in the sense of a loyalty to a society—the Kingdom of God—infinite

( 310) in size and character, without beginning and without end, and composed of an endless variety of personalities who have developed out of life's vicissitudes, who are controlled by perfect love, and who are organized according to the principle of serving one another and the Perfect Personality.


1. Group loyalty is love for one's group that is engendered by the recognition of benefits received.

2. Patriotism is a common expression of group loyalty.

3. Patriotism, originating in loyalty to patriarchal group, and running through various stages such as tribalism, monarchism, is now expressed most commonly as nationalism.

4. There are many types of patriotism, namely pugnacious, professional, profiteering, faddish, adventuresome, conspicuous, pacifist of two types, provincial, chauvinistic, true nationalism, and super-nationalism.

5. World group loyalty appears as different forms of internationalism, the best known types being industrial internationalism and democratic internationalism.

6. Greater loyalty to one's homeland group than to one's adopted group is hyphenism, with tendencies to treason.

7. Universal loyalties have been developed by philosophy and religion.


1. What is group loyalty?

2. How are crises related to loyalty?

3. What is patriotism?

4. Explain: "A great deal of so-called patriotism is but the crowd emotion of the nation."

5. What has been the evolutionary history of patriotism?

6. What is the relation of nation-group loyalty to primary group loyalty, such as love of family?

7. Compare pugnacious and professional patriotism.

8. What makes profiteering patriotism possible?

9. Compare faddish and conspicuous patriotism.

10. Why are some people pacifists?

11. What are two leading types of pacifists?

12. Compare provincial and chauvinistic patriotism.

( 311)

13. What is the relation of nationalism to internationalism?

14. What is there about treason that makes it despicable?

15. What is world loyalty?


1. To how many groups at the present time do you feel loyal? Rank in order your feelings of loyalty.

2. How can loyalty best be engendered in the non-loyal?

3. How can loyalty be developed in the disloyal?

4. What is your own definition of patriotism?

5. Name and illustrate a type of patriotism which is not discussed this chapter.

6. Can a good patriot be a bad citizen?

7. How do you rate the patriotism in the sentiment : My country, right: or wrong?

8. What could Veblen have meant when he said that "patriotism is useful for breaking the peace, not for keeping it."

9. What is "patrioteering"?

10. When is it easiest to be patriotic?

11. Rate each of the types of patriotism mentioned in this chapter in order of the quality of loyalty.

12. What is the chief basis for religious loyalty, "agreement in belief or agreement in ideal"?

13. Can one be a good nationalist and internationalist at the same time?

14. Is it practical to be a world patriot at the present time?


Brown, H. C., "Social Psychology and the Problem of a Higher Nationality," Intern. Jour. of Ethics, XXVIII: 19-30.

Coleman, J. M., Social Ethics (Baker-Taylor, 1903), Chs. VI, VII.

Cooley, C. H., Social Organization (Scribners, 1909), Part VI.

Crawshay-Williams, E., "The International Idea," Intern. Jour, of Ethics, XXVIII: 273-92.

Fayle, C. Ernest, The New Patriotism (Harrison & Sons, London, 1914).

Giddings, F. H., Principles of Sociology (Macmillan, 1896), pp. 100-196.

———, Democracy and Empire (Macmillan, 1900), Ch. IV.

Hall, G. S., "Morale in War and After," Psychological Bul., 15 : 361-426.

Hibben, J. G., "Higher Patriotism," North. Amer. Rev., 201: 702-709.

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Howard G. E., "Ideals as a Factor in the Future Control of International Society," Publications of the American Sociological Society, XII: 1-10.

Howerth, I. W., Work and Life (Sturgis & Walton, 1913), Ch. XI.
———, "Patriotism, Instinctive and Intelligent," Educational Rev., 44:13-24.

Inge, W. R., "Patriotism," Quarterly Rev., 224: 71-93.

Kropotkin, Prince, Mutual Aid; a Factor in Evolution (Knopf, 1917).

Lord, H. G., The Psychology of Courage (Luce, 1918), Ch. XIII.

Maclver, R. M., Community, Bk. III (Macmillan, 1917), Ch. IV.

Mathews, Shailer, Patriotism and Religion (Macmillan, 1918).

Nicolai, G. F., The Biology of War (Century, 1918), Chs. VII-IX.

Pillsbury, W. G., Psychology of Nationality and Internationalism (Appleton, 1919).

Spencer, Herbert, The Study of Sociology (Appleton, 1910), Ch. IX.

Stewart, H. L., "Is Patriotism Immoral?" Amer. Jour. of Sociology, 22: 616-30.

Veblen, Thorstein, The Nature of Peace (Macmillan, 1917), Ch. II.


  1. F. H. Giddings, Principles of Sociology, pp. 117 ff.
  2. Psalm 139.
  3. Referred to in Chapter XXIV.
  4. C. A. Ellwood, Reconstruction in Religion (Macmillan, 1922).
  5. Other phases of this type of international patriotism may be found in Chapter VI of The New Patriotism by C. E. Fayle.

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