Striving for difference: On the spontaneous preference for ingroup members who maximize ingroup positive distinctiveness



Previous research demonstrated that individuals spontaneously prefer ingroup members who display ingroup favoritism rather than egalitarian behaviors (Castelli, Tomelleri, & Zogmaister, 2008). In the current work, we explored what specific strategies toward ingroup favoritism are spontaneously preferred. Results from four studies showed that ingroup members who made it possible for the ingroup to achieve a positive intergroup differentiation were preferred as compared to ingroup members who maximized the absolute gain for the ingroup. Study 5 further demonstrated that in the search for positive distinctiveness people are sensitive to the ratio between the gains of the ingroup and outgroup. Study 6 ruled out a possible alternative explanation. Overall, the current findings indicate that group members who set the difference from an outgroup elicit the most positive spontaneous responses demonstrating that the search for a positive intergroup distinctiveness automatically affects intragroup perception. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.