Keeping it in-house: how audience affects responses to group criticism



It is often assumed that group-directed criticism is best kept ‘in-house’, but the effects of audience on responses to criticism have not been directly examined. Consistent with predictions, ingroup members who criticized the group to an outgroup audience were seen to be making a less appropriate choice of audience (Experiments 2 and 3), aroused more negative feelings (Experiment 1), were downgraded more strongly on personality traits (Experiment 2), and were seen to be doing more damage to the group (Experiment 2) than were ingroup members who kept their criticisms in-house. Experiment 3 showed that, whereas moderate identifiers agreed with the comments less and showed weaker friendly intentions toward the critic when an outgroup audience as compared to an ingroup audience was chosen, high identifiers agreed with the criticisms just as strongly—and showed more friendly intentions toward the critic—when they were made to an outgroup as compared to an ingroup audience. Results are discussed in light of the broader literature on identity threat. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.