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Abstract

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.