Ingroup Favoritism and Prejudice

In-group favoritism is the propensity to favor persons of an individual's group (the "in-group") over those of another organization (the "out-group"). Examples include the standards by which people are evaluated, the distribution of scarce resources, and similar practices. This effect has been investigated by several psychologists, who have identified connections to various theories about prejudice and group strife. A social-psychological point of view is essential to make sense of this occurrence. There is growing evidence that the formation of cultural subgroups contributes to the growth of members' affinity for their community. Although dividing societies into categories based on outward appearances is simple, populations eventually learn to associate specific traits with particular actions, resulting in even greater covariation. This makes it more probable that an individual may show bias against their group.

What are Ingroup Favoritism and Prejudice?

Populations initially categorize themselves based on more obvious characteristics, but over time they learn to associate traits with behaviors, increasing covariation. This makes it more probable that an individual may show bias against members of their group. The realistic conflict theory and the social identity theory are two major academic frameworks that shed light on in-group prejudice. Conflict is unavoidable when multiple entities compete for the same pool of scarce resources, according to the Realistic Conflict Theory. However, according to the social identity hypothesis, people tend to favor their groups because of a deep-seated need to feel special and different from those around them.

Social Identity and Group Behavior

The social identity approach investigates the personality characteristics that give rise to social identities, the various strategies people use to derive and promote a decent social identity, and the key characteristics of the social structure that determine either of these strategies will be used in any given situation to promote positive intergroup behavior. According to social identity theory, self-categorization is the underlying psychological mechanism that accounts for group phenomena.

Differentiation between "in" and "out" groups is a learned phenomenon (to which they do not belong). The term "depersonalization" refers to a mental change in which one stops thinking of themselves as a unique person and starts thinking of themselves as a generic representation of a larger social group. Assuming the belonging of a group makes its members more likely to act similarly. Some academics have posited that depersonalization is fundamental to social phenomena, including group cohesion, interpersonal attractiveness, and cooperative behavior. One's idea of self-incorporates their social identity. An integral component of interacting successfully with others is learning to put yourself in a mental, emotional, and critical box

Self Esteem

In social identity theory, the desire to boost one's sense of worth is a major factor in forming prejudices against groups. When people want to see themselves favorably, they tend to see their group positively, while others see them negatively. That is, no matter how trivial, people will find any excuse to show how much better their own group is.

Inequity Aversion

When interacting with members of one's in-group, people are less likely to take advantage of beneficial inequity aversion. This could be because people in one's in-group likely want to minimize differences between themselves and their peers. When dealing with out-group members, guilt based on injustice may take a back seat to the competitive objective of increasing in-group payoffs relative to those of the out-group. For this reason, belonging to a group may lessen the aversion to favorable unfairness and increase feelings of guilt when one group member benefits disproportionately from the group's resources.

Self-Identity and Social Identity

According to social identity theory, where an individual falls along a continuum from individual to social identity determines the extent to which group-related or individual attributes influence their emotions and behavior. If a person's sense of social identity is strongly rooted in a particular group, then that group's prototype will serve as a lens through which they view and understand their thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a result, we anticipate that group norms will continue to mediate between social identities and behavior. If a person's identity is somehow tied to the norms of the social group they belong to, then that person is more likely to engage in the behavior in question. Without a shared sense of who we are as a community, individuals are more at liberty to make decisions and express emotions consistent with who they are as people rather than the group.

On the other hand, the self-identity hypothesis argues that people's sense of who they are is heavily influenced by their social roles. The core concept is that humans are made up of specialized pieces that operate in concert to carry out predetermined societal roles. People only learn whom they are by interacting with others, and the roles they play in different groups are always shifting. Role identities are the personas that form due to a person's interactions with others. Being a mother is an example of a self-realized role identity, while being a social worker or a blood donor is an example of a factual role identity. Individuals' behavior is shaped by the expectations and values associated with their roles in society. Difficulty coping may result from being unable to look at how one imagines oneself according to cultural norms and expectations.


Humans are inherently and adaptively biased toward members of their group (the in-group). People prioritizing membership in acceptable social groupings are likelier to show in-group prejudice. From a young age, prejudice toward one's group members over those of other groups permeates all of one's relationships, both within and outside of one's group. Personality traits like authoritarianism and social dominance orientation favor one's group over others, whereas self-control and a humanist worldview favor the opposite. Different societies have varying levels of stereotyping and in-group bias.

Updated on: 26-Dec-2022


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