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A number of studies have found that high status groups tend to discriminate more than low status groups. This tendency can be interpreted as reflecting either a desire to maintain a positive social identity or an application of equity. An experiment was conducted in order to examine the roles of these two factors. The independent variables were status (high vs. low), and the nature of the relation between the dimension on which status was defined and the dimension on which in-group bias was measured (relation, no relation). When the two dimensions were related, equity was expected to be relevant. Therefore it was predicted that the status differential would be reproduced through the allocations. Contrary to this hypothesis, neither the high nor the low status group displayed in-group favoritism in this condition. The authors suggest that the use of two related dimensions rather than only one, as in previous studies, is responsible for such a discrepancy. It was further predicted that when the two dimensions were unrelated, equity would be irrelevant and therefore members of both groups would display in-group bias on the new dimension-either as a means of preserving a positive social identity or in order to achieve one. This second hypothesis was confirmed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2001.29.3.209

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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