Power and status differentials in minority and majority group relations

Authors

  • Itesh Sachdev,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Applied Linguistics, Birkbeck College, University of London, England
    • Department of Applied Linguistics, Birkbeck College, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD, England
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  • Richard Y. Bourhis

    Corresponding author
    1. Department de psychologie, Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec, Canada
    • Départment de Psychologie, Université du Québec à Montreal, C.P. 8888, Succ. A, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3C3P8
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Abstract

Using a variant of the minimal group paradigm (Tajfel and Turner, 1986), this study tested the effects of power, status and group numbers on intergroup behaviours and perceptions. Subjects (N = 160) were categorized into groups that varied on status (high or low), power (dominant or subordinate) and group numbers (majority or minority) variables within a 2 × 2 × 2 experimental design. Based on their evaluations of others' creative products, subjects distributed credit points to ingroup and outgroup others using the Tajfel matrices. Results showed that dominant group members were much more discriminatory and less parity oriented towards outgroup others than subordinate group members. High status group members were more discriminatory and less parity oriented than low status group members. Minority group members who were dominant and of high status were highly discriminatory and were unique in showing no parity whatsoever towards outgroup others. Subordinate low status minorities did not discriminate and were exceptional in showing out-group favouritism. Relative to group status and group numbers, group power seemed more predictive of actual discriminatory behaviour. Group status accounted for the greatest variance in social identification and intergroup perceptions measures. Results also showed that social categorization was sufficient to elicit more in-group than outgroup liking amongst all group members regardless of their position in the intergroup structure. Overall, this study indicated that power, status and group numbers independently and in combination, have a strong impact on intergroup behaviours and perceptions.

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