Reduction of intergroup discrimination through individuation of the out-group

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Several studies have found that the mere categorization of persons into groups is sufficient to promote intergroup discrimination. Out-group members may be convenient targets of bias because they are more deindividuated than in-group members. If so, then intergroup discrimination may be lessened through individuation of the out-group. In the 1st experiment, 72 undergraduates were divided into groups and were informed that the out-group was either unanimous in its behavior or that one member dissented from the majority. Typical levels of intergroup bias were found in the unanimous condition, but Ss did not discriminate against the out-group when an out-group member dissented. These findings were corroborated and extended in 2 subsequent experiments with 225 Ss. Ss requested assistance from an out-group that had previously frustrated them. Assistance from the out-group was found to be more effective in reducing intergroup bias when the out-group responded as individuals than when it responded as a group. Overall, results indicate that intergroup bias is related to the manner in which persons cognitively structure the out-group. Ss discriminated when the out-group was perceived to be a single entity but behaved more fairly when the out-group was more individuated. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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