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Keywords:

  • metastereotypes;
  • rejection-identification;
  • self-esteem;
  • social identity/image;
  • moderated mediation

Abstract

This research examined the prediction that group members' levels of identification with the in-group would be influenced by the valence of salient metastereotypes. Specifically, we expected those group members who activate negative metastereotypes to report lower levels of identification with the in-group compared with those who activate positive metastereotypes. We further expected the above effect to be mediated by fluctuations in self-view: Those group members who activate negative metastereotypes should experience lowered self-view (or self-esteem), which would then lead them to downplay their membership of the negatively valued in-group. In addition, we expected this mediated effect to be particularly visible among those who were less strongly identified with the in-group to begin with. Results obtained across two studies in which metastereotype valence was manipulated support the predicted main effect and the moderated mediation hypothesis. Discussions highlight the need for a positive social image when concern about the negative connotations of one's social group membership is raised. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.