Predicting intergroup fairness and ingroup bias in the minimal group paradigm



Previous social psychological theory and research based on the Minimal Group Paradigm have stressed the dominance of ingroup bias in intergroup evaluations and allocation behaviour. However, fairness in intergroup allocations has also been observed. Tested here were hypotheses derived from three non-mutually exclusive theories: (1) Social Identity Theory (e.g. Tajfel and Turner, 1986), which predicts ingroup evaluative and allocation biases, (2) Ng's (1981) Fate Control/Equity Paradigm, which predicts that ingroup bias in allocations occurs in relationships of mutual but not unilateral fate control, and (3) Social Value Theory (e.g. McClintock, 1972), which predicts that intergroup evaluations and allocation behaviours will vary as a function of the social value orientations of subjects. Evaluations were consistent with expectations from Social Identity Theory. Subjects, in general, evaluated ingroup members more favourably than the outgroup members. Allocations, however, were generally consistent with expectations from Social Value Theory, with prosocial subjects preferring fair to biased allocations, competitive subjects biased to fair ones. Neither allocation behaviour nor intergroup evaluations varied significantly as a function of the fate control relationship.