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Abstract

Decisions to allocate rewards to ingroup and outgroup members are under the dual pressures of equity and intergroup bias. This study examined variations in equity and bias resulting from the incongruity and salience of intergroup status. Incongruity arose from a mismatch between high subjective and low accorded status. Congruity occurred when subjective status and accorded status were both high or both low. By pairing school classes with known subjective and accorded statuses, an incongruous and a congruous status setting were derived naturally. The setting was made either salient or nonsalient experimentally. It was hypothesized that bias would progressively increase, and equity would progressively decrease, with incongruity and salience. Each set of hypotheses was partially supported. Further data analysis showed a robust tendency to under-reward both ingroup and outgroup members. This interpersonal negativity bras was shown by incongruous status allocators either when rewarding superior performance or in the salient condition. Apparently, it served to safeguard personal rather than social identity. The implications for equity and social identity theories were discussed.