On not airing our dirty laundry: Intergroup contexts suppress ingroup criticism among strongly identified group members


  • Dominic J. Packer

    Corresponding author
    1. Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Dominic J. Packer, Department of Psychology, Lehigh University, 17 Memorial Dr. E. Bethlehem, PA 18018, USA (e-mail: djp208@lehigh.edu).

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Not every situation affords the appropriate setting to articulate group problems, and I predicted that strongly identified members would be particularly sensitive to the intergroup context in which ingroup criticism is expressed. In Study 1, strongly but not weakly identified members reduced criticism of their ingroup when communicating with an outgroup (vs. ingroup) audience, and this effect was mediated by concerns for the reputation of the group. In Study 2, heightening the salience of intergroup competition suppressed criticism among group members high (but not low) in the solidarity component of identification, even though they were communicating with an ingroup audience. These findings show that even when criticizing their group, strongly identified members are attuned to the collective interest: they are more willing to articulate problems to an insider than when asked to do so by an outgroup member or when reminded of a competitive intergroup dynamic.