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Downplaying a compromised social image: The effect of metastereotype valence on social identification


Chuma K. Owuamalam, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK TW20 0OX.



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.

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