On the robustness of the group reference effect



Extending the self-reference effect to the level of group identities, previous research has shown that participants' encoding of trait adjectives with reference to ingroups facilitates recall relative to a control condition in which judgments are made about adjectives' meanings. We contend that this experimental comparison may have exaggerated the extent of the group reference effect. Two studies are reported that examine this contention. In Study 1 participants encoded adjectives with reference to an ingroup, an outgroup or to its semantic properties. Study 2 was nearly identical but required that adjectives be encoded with reference to an ingroup, the personal self or a specific person other than the self. Notwithstanding the use of more stringent controls, both studies provided evidence for the group reference effect. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.