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When different means bad or merely worse. How minimal and maximal goals affect ingroup projection and outgroup attitudes



Group members tend to perceive their ingroup relative to an outgroup as more prototypical for a common superordinate group because they project features of their ingroup onto the superordinate group. As a consequence, the ingroup is perceived as more positive than the outgroup (Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999). We extend the ingroup projection model by examining different types of ingroup goals: minimal and maximal goals as well as actual and ideal goals. Minimal goals should engender either-or thinking and lead to more ingroup projection compared with maximal goals that should involve more nuanced thinking. Ingroup prototypicality in terms of ideal goals (e.g., what we ideally should strive for) was expected to show a stronger relation to outgroup attitudes than ingroup prototypicality in terms of actual goals (e.g., what we are actually striving for). We manipulated minimal and maximal goal orientation and assessed actual and ideal goals. Across two studies, relative ingroup prototypicality was higher in the minimal compared with the maximal goal condition. Moreover, ingroup prototypicality referring to ideal goals showed a stronger relation to outgroup evaluation than ingroup prototypicality referring to actual goals. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.