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Less Biased Under Threat? Self-Verificatory Reactions to Social Identity Threat Among Groups With Negative Self-Stereotypes


  • This research was supported by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (N N106 0886 33), Statutory Research Grant (Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw) to the second author, and the Foundation for Polish Science FOCUS Grant to the first author. The authors thank Jasia Pietrzak and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Michal Bilewicz, Center for Research on Prejudice, Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, ul. Stawki 5/7, 00-183 Warszawa, Poland. E-mail:


According to social identity theory, when group status is threatened, highly committed group members respond with greater in-group favoritism. However, some of the groups build their identities on negative self-stereotypes. For such groups, status-threatening information should lead their members to confirmation of the group's negative self-image. Study 1 examined the effects of group-directed threat in a group with a long tradition of negative self-perception. The manipulation led participants to higher ratings of the out-group, and reduced adherence to in-group-defending ideologies. Study 2 provided further support to our predictions: Participants holding negative self-stereotypes reacted to group-image threats with more positive feelings about out-groups. Findings are discussed within the theoretical framework of social identity theory and self-verification theory.