Ingroup and outgroup support for upward mobility: Divergent responses to ingroup identification in low status groups

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Abstract

Members of groups with low societal status can pursue individual upward mobility to improve their status. We examine the conditions under which ingroup and outgroup members are most inclined to support such upward mobility attempts. Whereas both ingroup and outgroup supports are important, there may be tension: dissociation from the low status group may lower ingroup support, whereas association with the low status group may lower outgroup support. Ingroup association can be expressed by communicating one's affective involvement or by behaving in line with typical ingroup practices. As predicted, studies 1 and 2 show that support from the low status ingroup depends more on affective involvement than on behavioral identity expression (BIE). In contrast, studies 3–5 show that support from the high status group is more driven by the upwardly mobile individual's BIE. Mediational analyses show that these opposite patterns are driven by differential processes, prompted by the group's respective positions in the social hierarchy. The findings provide insight into how members of low status groups negotiate the competing demands of the high and low status groups as they pursue upward mobility. Moreover, they show how affective involvement and BIE differentially affect ingroup support and outgroup opposition. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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