Group size, controllability of group membership, and comparative dimension as determinants of intergroup discrimination

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Abstract

We expected that, when group members cannot control their group membership, majority members show ingroup favouritism on task-relevant dimension, whereas minority members were expected to show ingroup favouritism on task-irrelevant dimension (hypothesis I) In addition, it was expected that intergroup comparisons will change when group membership changes from uncontrollable to controllable. Based on Social Identity Theory, two alternative hypotheses were explored: Compared with uncontrollable settings, ingroup bias will decrease (2a) or increase (2b) in controllable settings. Ninety-two subjects were divided into four groups (minority versus majority, controllable versus uncontrollable group membership), allegedly on the basis of their essay writing style. The results supported the first hypothesis. Hypothesis 2a received support among the majority members and hypothesis 2b among the minority members. The findings are discussed in terms of Social Identity Theory and the effect the perceived control of group membership and the dimension may have on intergroup comparisons.

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