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Abstract

This paper presents two empirical studies of adolescents' peer-groups and inter-group processes. It is argued that the assumption according to which ingroup judgments tend to be more favourable than those about outgroups is too general. Social comparisons are hypothesized to depend largely on relative status of ingroup and outgroups. While members of superior groups are expected to favour their own group and to discriminate the outgroup, members of inferior or equal status groups are hypothesized to distinguish between ingroup and outgroup but not to discriminate the outgroup. In the first study it was predicted that members of superior groups would feel close to their group and distant from the outgroup, whereas members of equal status groups would feel close to their group but also relatively close to the outgroup. These predictions were confirmed. The closer highly identified members of equal status groups felt to be to their group the less distant they also perceived themselves to be to the outgroup. In the second study a distinction was made between evaluative and descriptive aspects of judgments and polarization of judgments. Social categorization processes were observed in evaluative components of judgments and in polarization of judgments. Descriptive components were not used to discriminate between ingroup and outgroups but just to illustrate differences between their respective activities and programmes.