Data from several recent studies consistently show a positive–negative asymmetry in social discrimination: within a minimal social situation tendencies towards ingroup favouritism which usually appear in allocations of positively valenced resources are absent in the domain of negatively valenced stimuli. The present study investigates whether this valence-asymmetry has any correspondence to variations in normative evaluations of positive versus negative outcome allocations. For this purpose perceptions of normative appropriateness as well as frequency expectations of outside observers regarding outcome allocations made by categorized group members were investigated. Results show that parity choices were perceived as more normatively appropriate than out- or ingroup favouritism. While outgroup favouritism was judged as inappropriate as ingroup favouritism for positive resources, ingroup favouring decisions for negative resources were perceived as the least appropriate response within the minimal social situation. In addition, in contrast to results of St. Claire and Turner (1982) non-categorized subjects expected ingroup favouring decisions by group members more frequently than parity or outgroup favouring choices with respect to positively valanced resources. When, however, negative resources were to be allocated, outgroup favouritism was predominantly expected. Results are discussed in terms of justice considerations and are linked to a normative account of the positive--negative asymmetry in social discrimination. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.