Conformity and Identity Threat: The Role of Ingroup Identification

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Two studies investigated the impact of national (Swiss) identification, perceived threat to ingroup identity, and pro- vs. antidiscrimination ingroup norms on discrimination against foreigners. As expected, ingroup identification was positively related to discrimination when perceived threat was high, but not when it was low: those with high ingroup identification conformed to the prodiscrimination norm, but counterconformed to the antidiscrimination norm. These findings suggest that group members do not conform blindly to group norms, but that they selectively follow the norms that are in line with their personal motivations (i.e., the extent of ingroup identification) and intergroup context (i.e., perceived intergroup threat). When norms clash with group members' perceptions and personal motivations, they can even give rise to counterconformity dynamics.

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