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Abstract

Two experiments were conducted to investigate some of the factors affecting social identification. In Experiment 1 ingroup identification was measured for subjects who were members of high or low status groups with either permeable or impermeable boundaries, and who received high, average or low ability feedback. The main results are that (1) members of high status groups show more ingroup identification than members of low status groups (2) members of low status groups with permeable boundaries identify less with their group than members of low status groups with impermeable boundaries and (3) in low status groups ingroup identification decreases as group members have higher individual ability. In Experiment 2, in addition to manipulating group status and individual ability, permeability was further differentiated into separate possibilities for upward and downward mobility. The most important results of Experiment 2 are that (1) members of high status groups show more ingroup identification than members of low status groups and (2) group members with high individual ability identify less with their group when upward mobility is possible than when upward mobility is not possible. These results are discussed in relation to social identity theory.