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Abstract

Three experiments were conducted examining group members' responses to criticism from ingroup and outgroup members. In Experiment 1a, Australians read scripts of a person making either negative or positive comments about Australia. The speaker was identified as coming from either Australia (ingroup member) or another country (outgroup member). Responses indicated an intergroup sensitivity effect; that is, while ingroup criticisms were tolerated surprisingly well, outgroup criticisms were met with sensitivity and defensiveness. This pattern was replicated using the identity of ‘university student’ (Experiment 1b). Experiment 2 demonstrated that the intergroup sensitivity effect is driven by perceptions that ingroup criticisms are seen to be more legitimate and more constructive than are outgroup criticisms. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for intragroup and intergroup relations. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.