Group motives in threatening contexts: When a loyalty conflict paradoxically reduces the influence of an anti-discrimination ingroup norm



The influence of pro- versus anti-discrimination ingroup norms on Swiss nationals' attitudes towards foreigners was investigated as a function of national identification and perceived material ingroup threat. As predicted, results revealed a significant interaction between identification and threat: High identifiers showed a more negative attitude than low identifiers mainly when perceived threat was high. In other words, high identifiers conformed to the pro-discrimination norm, but showed a counter-conformity effect for the anti-discrimination norm. Additional results revealed that high identifiers actually disagreed with the anti-discrimination norm when perceived threat was high, but that they were more attached to the ingroup. These findings suggest that when the ingroup norm is not an appropriate response to an ingroup threat (i.e. anti-discrimination norm), high identifiers find themselves in a loyalty conflict: they are unable to simultaneously conform to the group norm and protect the group. This conflict was resolved through a compensatory mechanism: High identifiers distanced themselves from the ingroup norm in order to protect the group (i.e. by increasing negative attitudes towards foreigners) but reinforced other ingroup ties (i.e. by increasing attachment to the ingroup values). Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.