The pro-ingroup bias: how is it formed and what is it?

The pro-ingroup bias: how is it formed and what is it?

As social psychology tells us, people create categories and divide others into these categories. In other words, we create groups that can be national, ethnic, religious, gender, preference, work, etc. This implies that some people will be in our group while others will not be, which will lead to so-called pre-group prejudices.

Pro-endogroup bias, also known as endogroup favoritism, can be defined as the tendency of members of a group to favor, benefit or better value members of their own group. In other words, group members will benefit more than people outside the group.

Put an end to group prejudices in conflicts

The pro-endogroup bias stems from the study of relations between different groups and conflicts. This bias is seen as the product of a conflict between groups, which in turn is caused by different interests between groups or by incompatible goals. Two groups may have the same goal, but if one group succeeds, it means the other group will not succeed.

An example of this is football. Football fans identify with their team, so they create a category that includes their team's supporters, but excludes fans from other teams. On the other hand, in the football league, the goal is to win the league or to win the league. But only one team can win. So, if my group is Paris Saint-Germain, we are going to have a conflict with the other teams' supporters, especially if they represent a threat because we perceive that they are more likely than our team to win the championship.

The intensity of the conflict may be greater or less. It will depend on our involvement in our group and other factors. But when it comes to prejudices within an endogenous group, it is our attitudes, our perceptions, our preferences and even our behavior that will change. For example, we will see people from other teams being more unpleasant and less friendlywhich will lead us to treat them less well, while we will better treat people from within our team.

Advances in the study of pro-ingroup bias

Subsequent research has shown that it is not necessary to have conflicting interests or conflicts so that there is endogenous group bias. Just because they belonged to another group, their members were despised. Although members of other groups will not always be despised either, what is still present is in-group favoritism. We will promote our group in the distribution of rewards as well as in the attribution of traits or the evaluation of their performance.

This new research has also found an explanation for the pro-endogenous bias. Starting from the fact that people are motivated to reach or maintain a concept and a positive image of themselves, we find that people are defined, in part, by their home group. Therefore, if a person wants to get a good image, it must also make positive the image of his groupso that people outside the group are also motivated to positively evaluate the group to which they belong.

How do you come to a positive evaluation of your own group?

Group evaluations are performed by comparison. We do not say that our group is good, but that it is better than another or the best of all. In this way, when we compare our group with others, we will get positive feedback and our self-esteem will increase. In the end, we will try to make our group different, to make it better than others. This is called the positive distinctiveness of an endogenous group.

On the other hand, for there to be a pro-ingroup bias and that our perceptions, assessments and behaviors change as a result of the search for positive group distinctiveness, four conditions must be met :

  • People must identify with their group and use it to define their self-image.
  • Comparison with other groups must be based on a group characteristic considered important.
  • The group with which the comparison is made must be perceived as an important group.
  • The actual positions of the groups compared should be subject to some ambiguity.

To conclude, belonging to a group has consequences of which we are not always aware. To privilege those who we consider as members of our group compared to members of other groups is one of them.Therefore, knowledge of these effects of group identification is the first step in managing their impact on us.

Solomon Asch, pioneer of social psychology

Solomon Asch and his experiences have been controversial, but today he is considered one of the fathers of social psychology. Learn more
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