Status differenttals and intergroup behaviour


  • Itesh Sachdev,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Applied Linguistics, University of London, U.K.
    • Department of Applied Linguistics. Birkbcck College, University of London. 43 Gordon Square, London WCIH OPD, U.K.
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  • Richard Y. Bourhis

    Corresponding author
    1. McMaster University, Ontario, Canada
    • Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S 4K1
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  • This research was conducted as part of the first author's doctoral dissertation and was funded by a grant from the Multiculturalism Directorate of the Canadian secretary of State to the second author. An abridged version of this paper was presented at the 45th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association. June, 1984, Ottawa, Ontario.


This study investigated the independent effects of status differential on intergroup behaviour. Using a variant of the minimal group paradigm (Tueland Turner, 1979), subjects were categorized into groups of differing status (high, equal, low) with two levels of category salience (high, low). Using Tajfel's matrices subjects rated the creativity of products ostensibly produced by ingroup and outgroup members. Own group identification, intergroup perceptions and self-reported strategies on the matrices constituted the other dependent measures. Results indicated a main effect for group status but none for salience. Equal status groups discriminated against each other thus replicating the minimal intergroup discrimination effect. High and equal status group members were more discriminatory against outgroups and more positive about their own group membership than were low status group members. In contrast, low status group members engaged in significant amounts of outgroup favouritism. Results also showed that social categorization per se was sufficient to elicit more ingroup than outgroup liking amongst all group members regardless of status differentials between groups. Overall, the results illustrate important aspects of the interplay between group status, social identity, prejudice and discrimination.