Cognitive differentiation between self, ingroup, and outgroup: The roles of identification and perceived intergroup conflict



Several models predict that persons ascribe opposite characteristics to self and ingroups on the one hand and outgroups on the other (outgroup contrast). However, only few studies have found this effect. This study explored its boundary conditions. Sixty-two students rated (a) characteristics of themselves, an ingroup (own study major), and an outgroup (other study major), (b) ingroup identification, and (c) perceived intergroup conflict. Participants who were relatively high in ingroup identification and who perceived relatively high levels of intergroup conflict displayed outgroup contrast, as indicated by negative correlations between trait ratings for self and ingroup and between trait ratings for ingroup and outgroup. The other participants showed weaker or no outgroup contrast. Thus, this study is one of the few empirical demonstrations of outgroup contrast and points to moderators that should be considered in future research on this effect. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.