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Group comparison in favour of ingroup identification

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1249 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Locus of bias: Ingroup favouritism or outgroup derogation

Differentiation of group comparison in favour of ingroup identification


The experiment proposed that differentiation between group comparisons transpire in favour of each participants assigned group .The experiment demonstrated how easily ingroup bias can be created, investigating minimal conditions required for prejudice to occur between groups .The experiment consisted of two parts a) a structure was to be build with an initial prize for the best group project b) students then rated all participants group projects individually. Results showed clearly that students rated their arbitrarily assigned ingroup task more positively and less negatively than their out-groups. The results demonstrated that ingroup bias was likely greater due to the competitive nature of the task. It is hypothesized that group members have a need for positive social identity which can be satisfied by favourable comparisons between in-group and out-group members. The findings support the outlook that ingroup favourability bias is stimulated by a need to maintain or enhance a positive social identity and that social categorization involves fundamentally a distinction between the group containing the self (Turner, 1975).

Keywords: ingroup bias, outgroup derogation, intergroup relation, social identity, social categorization, collective identity

Literature review

Humans are primarily social animals. Not only is group living of clear contemporary importance (Spears et al., 1997), but also stands for a fundamental survival strategy that has likely characterized the human species from the beginning (Simpson & Kenrick, 1997). The ways in which people understand their group membership consequently play a critical role in social conflict, agreement and intergroup integration. Sherif et al.’s (1961) first observations demonstrated in addition that intergroup relations begin to sour soon after people classify others in terms of ingroup and outgroup. People are more generous and forgiving in their explanations for the behaviours of ingroup relative to outgroup members. Positive behaviours and successful outcomes are more likely to be attributed to internal, stable characteristics of the ingroup personality than outgroup members, and while negative outcomes are more likely to be credited to the personalities of outgroup members than of ingroup members (Hewstone, 1990; Pettigrew, 1979).

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Experiments using the “minimal group paradigm” (MGP), first introduced by Rabbie and Horwitz (1969) and Tajfel et.al (1971), had a great impact on subsequent theorizing and research in psychology. These studies revealed that members of the novel ingroup were favoured over members of outgroups. These results showed that a simple act of social categorization can acquire ingroup favouritism and relative outgroup derogation (Brewer, 1979; Brown, 2000). The most famous explanation of the “mere categorization effect” was provided by the social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Social identity theory states that individuals classify themselves in terms of their group memberships and seek out to preserve a positive identity through association with positively valued groups and through comparisons with other groups (Tajfel & Turner, 1979).

in recent times psychologists also emphasize the role of the individual self in ingroup favouritism. According to some researchers (Clement & Krueger, 2002), ingroup favouritism is often the result of a strong association between the ingroup and a positive self image. This necessity motivates social comparisons that favourably distinguish ingroup from outgroup members, first and foremost when self-esteem is also being challenged (Hogg & Abrams, 1990). In this view, the self description therefore provides fundamental contribution to shape the ingroups prototype and in turn increases the likelihood of the development of intergroup biases and conflict (Schopler & Insko, 1992).


The experiments using small groups showed that the scores for the ingroup project were significantly larger than for outgroups. The intergroup bias, expressed by assigning positive attributes more strongly to the ingroup and negative attributes more strongly to the outgroup, was possibly due to a similarity between self -evaluation and ingroup evaluation and raise the question whether ingroup favouritism and outgroup derogation is caused by self competition and self-image within the group as proposed by Clement & Krueger (2002). Different treatment of ingroup versus outgroup members, whether ingrained in favouritism for one group or derogation of another, can lead to different expectations, perceptions, and behaviour toward ingroup versus outgroup members. Conflict and ingroup bias can also result from the mere act of categorizing individuals into groups (Tajfel, 1969, 1978). Through the abundance of work using the minimal group paradigm, it is clear that arbitrarily dividing individuals into groups can enhance ingroup bias and outgroup hostility. Social categorization can produce ingroup bias, discrimination, stereotypes, as well as intergroup conflict arising from realistic competition between groups and intensify ingroup bias and outgroup hostility. Competition and conflicting group interests are not necessary basic for intergroup conflict. As groups view one another as likely competitors, they begin to compete, unintentionally bringing about the antagonistic rivalry they initially feared. This self-fulfilling prophecy can turn into an more and more intense conflict, as those implicated become even more convinced that the others are hostile (Sherif & Sherif, 1953).

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In conclusion, it appears that the self is an important factor in forming impressions about new groups. Very small information about an ingroup and outgroup tends to project our own positive features onto the ingroup attributing contrastive features to outgroups. Self-imaging plays an important role in the initial exploratory stages when people become members of a new group. . Because of the centrality of the self in social perception (Higgins & Bargh, 1987; Kihlstrom et al., 1988), it is suggested that social categorization involves most basically a difference between the group containing the self (the ingroup) and other groups (the outgroups) between the

“we’s” and the “they’s” (Tajfel & Turner, 1979;Turner et al., 1987). This division has an ample influence on evaluations, cognitions, and behaviour. Rationally understanding the nature of bias and conflict can suggest ways in which these forces can be channelled and redirected to endorse social harmony. For example, once people identify with a universal group identity, they may be more trusting of previous outgroup members and as a result be willing to make use of the type of personalized, self-disclosing interaction that can promote this social harmony (Brewer & Miller, 1984; Dovidio et al., 1997). Consequently factors related to structural and functional relations between groups and those related with joint representations (e.g., involving joint intergroup differentiation, re-categorization and de-categorization processes) can function in a balancing and give-and-take approach (Gaertner, 2001).


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