EFFECT OF HIERARCHY LEGITIMACY ON LOW STATUS GROUP MEMBERS' ATTRIBUTIONS FOR INGROUP AND OUTGROUP FAILURES1,2

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that people have a tendency to explain successes and failures in ways that favor their ingroups relative to outgroups. However, there has been a dearth of research examining whether social-contextual factors such as group status and hierarchy legitimacy moderate such intergroup attributions. Participants in this study were assigned to a low status group, and perceived hierarchy legitimacy was then experimentally manipulated; the extent to which ingroup versus outgroup failures were attributed to several causes was measured. When low status was considered illegitimate, ingroup failure was attributed to external causes (task difficulty, bad luck) more so than outgroup failure. Implications and directions for future research examining consequences and mediating processes are discussed.

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