The Psychology of Prejudice: Ingroup Love or Outgroup Hate?
Marilynn B. Brewer* Ohio State University
Allport (1954) recognized that attachment to one’s ingroups does not necessarily require hostility toward outgroups. Yet the prevailing approach to the study of ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, and prejudice presumes that ingroup love and outgroup hate are reciprocally related. Findings from both cross-cultural research and laboratory experiments support the alternative view that ingroup identification is independent of negative attitudes toward outgoups and that much ingroup bias and intergroup discrimination is motivated by preferential treatment of ingroup members rather than direct hostility toward outgroup members. Thus to understand the roots of prejudice and discrimination requires first of all a better understanding of the functions that ingroup formation and identification serve for human beings. This article reviews research and theory on the motivations for maintenance of ingroup boundaries and the implications of ingroup boundary protection for intergroup relations, conflict, and conflict prevention.
Although we could not perceive our own in-groups excepting as they con- trast to out-groups, still the in-groups are psychologically primary. . . . Hostility toward out-groups helps strengthen our sense of belonging, but it is not required. . . . Thefamiliar is preferred. What is alien is regarded as somehow inferior, less “good,” but there is not necessarily hostility against it. . . .Thus, while a certain amount of predilection is inevitable in
*This article is based on an address presented at the Gordon W. Allport Centennial Symposium on Prejudice and Intergroup Relations, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, October 31, 1997. Prepara- tion of this article was supported by funding from National Science Foundation grant no. SBR 9514398.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marilynn B. Brewer, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, 1885 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 [e-mail: brewer.64@ osu.edu].
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 55, No. 3, 1999, pp. 429–444
© 1999 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
all in-group memberships, the reciprocal attitude toward out-groups may range widely.
—Allport, 1954 (p. 42)
Allport’s (1954) chapter on “Ingroup Formation” (from which the above quotation is taken) is one of the less cited sections of his classic bookThe Nature of Prejudice, but it warrants closer attention as a precursor to later research on ingroup bias and intergroup discrimination. In this chapter, Allport postulated that ingroups are “psychologically primary,” in the sense that familiarity, attachment, and preference for one’s ingroups come prior to development of attitudes toward specific outgroups. Further, Allport recognized that preferential positivity toward ingroups does not necessarily imply negativity or hostility toward outgroups. Indeed, ingroup love can be compatible with a range of attitudes toward corre- sponding outgroups, including mild positivity, indifference, disdain, or hatred.
Allport’s insights about the nature of ingroup-outgroup attitudes stand in contrast to the inherited wisdom represented in Sumner’s (1906) original treatment of the concepts of ethnocentrism, ingroups, and outgroups. Like Allport, Sumner defined ethnocentrism in terms of positive sentiments toward the ingroup: pride, loyalty, and perceived superiority. However, Sumner also believed that these posi- tive sentiments toward the ingroup were directly correlated with contempt, hatred, and hostility toward outgroups. As he put it:
The relation of comradeship and peace in the we-group and that of hostility and war towards others-groups are correlative to each other. The exigencies of war with outsiders are what make peace inside. . . .Loyalty to the group, sacrifice for it, hatred and contempt for outsid- ers, brotherhood within, warlikeness without—all grow together, common products of the same situation. (Sumner, 1906, p. 12)
Despite Allport’s critique of this view of ingroup-outgroup relations, most contemporary research on intergroup relations, prejudice, and discrimination appears to accept, at least implicitly, the idea that ingroup favoritism and outgroup negativity are reciprocally related. Common usage and textbook definitions of “prejudice” equate it with negative attitudes toward specific outgroups. Ingroup bias and outgroup prejudice are studied interchangeably, as if discriminationfor ingroups and discriminationagainstoutgroups were two sides of the same coin. In this article, I will reassess the validity of this presumption, arguing that ingroup favoritism and outgroup prejudice are separable phenomena and that the origin of identification and attachment to ingroups is independent of intergroup conflict. I will then consider the conditions under which attachment and loyalty to ingroups may become associated with outgroup hate and the implications of this relationship for prejudice reduction and prevention of conflict.
Is Negative Reciprocity Inevitable?
The idea that attitudes toward ingroups and corresponding outgroups are negatively reciprocally related can be derived from a number of theoretical assumptions. For Sumner (1906), the proposition derived from his structural- functional theory of the origins of groups in the context of conflict over scarce natural resources. In an environment of scarcity, individuals needed to band together in groups to compete successfully with other groups for survival. Hence, the exigencies of warfare gave rise both to institutions that maintain ingroup loyalty and cohesion and combativeness toward outgroups as “common products of the same situation.” In the absence of realistic conflict and scarcity, neither strong ingroup attachment nor outgroup hostility would be expected. Similar ideas were represented later in Sherif’s functional theory of intergroup behavior (Sherif, 1966; Sherif & Sherif, 1953), in which ingroups are presumed to be formed from positive interdependence in pursuit of common goals whereas intergroup relations are characterized by competition and negative interdependence.
Although structural and functional approaches to the study of intergroup rela- tions waned with the rise of social identity theory (Tajfel, 1981; Tajfel & Turner, 1986), the assumption of negative reciprocity between ingroup and outgroup attitudes was retained at the psychological level. The same bipolar assumption was also applied to judgments of similarity-dissimilarity such that increasing perceived similarity within groups is associated with increasing dissimilaritybetweengroups. Overlaid on the ingroup-outgroup distinction, these assumptions lead to a sort of zero-sum perspective in which attachment and positive affect toward an ingroup is achieved through distance and negative affect toward corresponding outgroups.
There may be many situations in which either the structural or psychological conditions for reciprocal activation of ingroup positivity and outgroup negativity may hold. However, there are both empirical and theoretical grounds for challeng- ing the assumption that such reciprocity is inevitable or even common. Whenever the structure of resources or opportunities really is a zero-sum situation, any prefer- ential treatment of ingroup members will be achieved at the detriment of outgroup members, but this does not mean that attitudes are similarly zero-sum. Discrimina- tion can be motivated solely by ingroup preference, in the absence of any negative affect or hostile intent toward outgroups.1
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1 Conversely, discrimination can be motivated solely by outgroup antagonism in the absence of any ingroup loyalty or attachment. One might argue (and I do) that prejudice, hostility, or hatred of a particular social group in the absence of any ingroup identification or benefit is not a case of intergroup behavior at all. Instead, it is an individual attitude, parallel to antagonisms or phobias with respect to any social object. This is not to deny the pervasiveness and significance of outgroup hate as a social prob- lem. Indeed, many of the more virulent forms of prejudice and racism most likely represent outgroup hostility rather than ingroup favoritism.
Indeed, results from both laboratory experiments and field studies indicate that variations in ingroup positivity and social identification do not systematically corre- late with degree of bias or negativity toward outgroups (Brewer, 1979; Hinkle & Brown, 1990; Kosterman & Feshbach, 1989). For example, in a study of the recip- rocal attitudes among 30 ethnic groups in East Africa, Brewer and Campbell (1976) found that almost all of the groups exhibited systematic differential positive evalua- tion of the ingroup over all outgroups on dimensions such as trustworthiness, obedi- ence, friendliness, and honesty. However, the correlation between degree of positive ingroup regard and social distance toward outgroups was essentially .00 across the 30 groups (Brewer & Campbell, 1976, p. 85). Further, the positive ingroup biases exhibited in the allocation of positive resources in the minimal inter- group situation (Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Flament, 1971) are essentially eliminated when allocation decisions involve the distribution of negative outcomes or costs (e.g., Mummendey et al., 1992), suggesting that individuals are willing to differen- tially benefit the ingroup compared to outgroups but are reluctant to harm outgroups more directly. Outside of the laboratory, measures of patriotism or ingroup pride prove to be conceptually and empirically distinct from aggression against outgroups (Feshbach, 1994; Struch & Schwartz, 1989).
Recognizing that ingroup attitudes and internal relationships may be inde- pendent of attitudes and behavior toward outgroups leads to a new approach to research on intergroup relations. If we take Allport’s insight about the primacy of ingroup orientations seriously, we must first come to a better understanding of how and why ingroups are formed and why individuals exhibit ingroup loyalty, identifi- cation, and attachment in the first place. The second question is why and under what conditions the formation and maintenance of ingroups and ingroup loyalty leads to negative relationships with outgroups.
Ingroup Differentiation: An Evolutionary Perspective
In his chapter on ingroup formation, Allport noted that because ingroups require some boundary or demarcation between “in” and “out,” by definition ingroups necessarily imply outgroups (either specific or amorphous “others”). That is, Allport recognized that ingroup formation involves differentiation of the social landscape into those that are acknowledged to be “us” and those that fall outside that boundary. Allport also believed that ingroup boundaries could shift from person to person or context to context so as to be more or less inclusive depending on local conditions or individual needs. Wherever drawn, however, ingroup-outgroup distinctions shape social interactions and opportunities for cooperation, imitation, and interdependence. Thus initial differentiations, however arbitrary, beget further social differentiation.
Although attitudes toward and relationships with outgroups vary, cross- cultural evidence documents the universality of social differentiation into ingroups
and outgroups at some level beyond the family or social village (Brewer, 1972, 1986; Brewer & Campbell, 1976; LeVine & Campbell, 1972). Since ingroup- outgroup distinctions do not always involve intense (or even mild) competition or conflict over scarce resources, there is need for a theory of the evolution of social groups that does not depend on intergroup conflict per se. Such a theory starts from the recognition that group living represents the fundamental survival strategy that characterizes the human species. In the course of our evolutionary history, humans abandoned most of the physical characteristics and instincts that make possible survival and reproduction as isolated individuals or pairs of individuals, in favor of other advantages that require cooperative interdependence with others in order to survive in a broad range of physical environments. In other words, as a species we have evolved to rely on cooperation rather than strength, and on social learning rather than instinct as basic adaptations.
The result is that, as a species, human beings are characterized byobligatory interdependence(Brewer, 1997; Caporael, 1997). For long-term survival, we must be willing to rely on others for information, aid, and shared resources, and we must be willing to give information and aid and to share resources with others. At the individual level, the potential benefits (receiving resources from others) and costs (giving resources to others) of mutual cooperation go hand in hand and set natural limits on cooperative interdependence. The decision to cooperate (to expend resources to another’s benefit) is a dilemma of trust since the ultimate benefits depend on everyone else’s willingness to do the same. A cooperative system requires that trust dominate over distrust. But indiscriminate trust (or indiscrimi- nate altruism) is not an effective individual strategy; altruism must be contingent on the probability that others will cooperate as well.
Social differentiation and clear group boundaries provide one mechanism for achieving the benefits of cooperative interdependence without the risk of excessive costs. Ingroup membership is a form of contingent altruism. By limiting aid to mutually acknowledged ingroup members, total costs and risks of nonreciprocation can be contained.2 Thus, ingroups can be defined as bounded communities of mutual trust and obligation that delimit mutual interdependence and cooperation. An important aspect of this mutual trust is that it is depersonalized (Brewer, 1981), extended to any member of the ingroup whether personally related or not. Psycho- logically, expectations of cooperation and security promote positive attraction toward other ingroup members and motivate adherence to ingroup norms of appear- ance and behavior that assure that one will be recognized as a good or legitimate ingroup member. Symbols and behaviors that differentiate the ingroup from local outgroups become particularly important here, to reduce the risk that ingroup bene- fits will be inadvertently extended to outgroup members, and to ensure that ingroup
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2 See Takagi (1996) and Insko, Schopler, and Sedikides (1998) for related arguments.
members will recognize one’s own entitlement to receive benefits. Assimilation within and differentiation between groups is thus mutually reinforcing, along with ethnocentric preference for ingroup interactions and institutions.
If social differentiation and intergroup boundaries are functional for social cooperation, there should be psychological mechanisms at the individual level that motivate and sustain ingroup identification and differentiation. The optimal dis- tinctiveness model of social identity (Brewer, 1991) is based on this evolutionary perspective. The theory holds that group identification is the product of opposing needs for inclusion (assimilation) and differentiation from others. As opposing motives, the two needs hold each other in check. When a person feels isolated or detached from any larger social collective, the drive for inclusion is aroused; on the other hand, immersion in an excessively large or undefined social collective activates the search for differentiation and distinctiveness. Equilibrium is achieved through identification with distinctive social groups that meet both needs simulta- neously. Inclusion needs are satisfied by assimilation within the group while differentiation is satisfied by intergroup distinctions. Clear ingroup boundaries serve to secure both inclusion and exclusion.
One implication of optimal distinctiveness theory is that ingroup loyalty, and its concomitant depersonalized trust and cooperation, is most effectively engaged by relatively small, distinctive groups or social categories. The psychology of assimilation and differentiation limits the extent to which strong social identifica- tion can be indefinitely extended to highly inclusive, superordinate social groups or categories. Allport (1954) recognized this limitation but believed that it was possible to build on the notion of “concentric loyalties” (p. 44) where loyalties to more inclusive collectives (e.g., nations, humankind) are compatible with loyalties to subgroups (e.g., family, profession, religion). This brings us back to the issue of whether ingroup preference and loyalty can exist without spawning outgroup fear or hostility. If superordinate groups subsume ingroup and outgroups at the sub- group level, concentric loyalty requires that the needs and interests of ingroup and outgroup are not seen as incompatible or conflictual.
Ingroup Preference as a Platform for Outgroup Hate
The evolutionary argument for bounded social cooperation carries no implicit link between ingroup formation and intergroup hostility or conflict. In fact, in a context of limited resources, group differentiation and territory boundaries can serve as a mechanism to prevent conflict among individuals rather than promoting it. Discrimination between ingroup and outgroups is a matter of relative favoritism toward the ingroup and the absence of equivalent favoritism toward outgroups. Within this framework, outgroups can be viewed with indifference, sympathy, even admiration, as long as intergroup distinctiveness is maintained. (As one
informant from our cross-cultural study of ethnocentrism put it, “we have our ways and they have their ways.”)
Nonetheless, there are a number of ways in which the effects of social differ- entiation provide a fertile ground for conflict and hate. There is a fine line between the absence of trust and the presence of active distrust, or between noncooperation and overt competition. In the following section I consider a few of the ways in which the conditions of maintaining ingroup integrity and loyalty pave the way to outgroup hate and hostility.
At its most basic level, the apparent universal preference for ingroups and ingroup ways over those of the outgroup stems from the simple observation that one can expect to be treated more nicely by ingroup members than by outgroups. To the extent that all groups discriminate between intragroup social behavior and intergroup behavior, it is in a sense universally true that “we” are more peaceful, trustworthy, friendly, and honest than “they.” This is reinforced by a general pref- erence for the familiar over the unfamiliar. Social interactions within the ingroup are more predictable and understood than intergroup interactions.
As ingroups become larger and more depersonalized, the institutions, rules, and customs that maintain ingroup loyalty and cooperation take on the character of moral authority. When the moral order is seen as absolute rather than relative, moral superiority is incompatible with tolerance for difference. To the extent that outgroups do not subscribe to the same moral rules, indifference is replaced by denigration and contempt. Such negative evaluations of the outgroup do not necessarily lead directly to hostility or conflict. In various contexts, groups have managed to live in a state of mutual contempt over long periods without going to war over their differences. The emotions of contempt and disgust are associated with avoidance rather than attack, so intergroup peace is maintained through segre- gation and mutual avoidance. Contact is strongly resisted, but social changes that give rise to the prospect of close contact, integration, or influence are sufficient to kindle hatred, expulsion, and even “ethnic cleansing.” Moral superiority also provides justification or legitimization for domination or active subjugation of outgroups (Sidanius, 1993).
In line with Realistic Conflict Theory of intergroup relations (LeVine & Campbell, 1972: Sherif & Sherif, 1953), the reciprocal relationship between ingroup cohesion and outgroup hostility may be limited to conditions in which groups are in competition over physical resources or political power. Whether actual or imagined, the perception that an outgroup constitutes a threat to ingroup
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interests or survival creates a circumstance in which identification and interdepen- dence with the ingroup is directly associated with fear and hostility toward the threatening outgroup and vice versa. To the extent that threat is a factor, members of disadvantaged or subordinate groups should show a stronger correlation between ingroup identification and prejudice against the dominant outgroup spe- cifically. In accord with this prediction, Duckitt and Mphuthing (1998) found a substantial interrelationship between ingroup identification and negative attitudes toward Afrikaners among Black Africans in South Africa. However, there was no correlation between ingroup identification and attitudes toward English Whites, nor toward Whites in general. These findings led Duckitt and Mphuthing (1998) to conclude that there are two different types of prejudice involved in anti-White attitudes among Black Africans. One type is rooted in perceived conflict and entails a reciprocal relationship between ingroup identification and outgroup hostility. When intergroup attitudes are not conflict-based, attitudes toward the ingroup and prejudice toward the outgroup are essentially independent.
In contrast to conditions of intergroup competition and threat, the existence of superordinate goals (or the presence of a shared threat) is widely believed to pro- vide the conditions necessary for intergroup cooperation and reduction of conflict (e.g., Sherif, 1966). This belief is an extrapolation of the general finding that intragroup solidarity is increased in the face of shared threat or common challenge. It may be true that loosely knit ingroups become more cohesive and less subject to internal factioning when they can be rallied to the demands of achieving a common goal. The dynamics of interdependence are quite different, however, in the case of highly differentiated social groups. Among members of the same ingroup, engag- ing the sense of trust necessary for cooperative collective action is essentially nonproblematic. In an intergroup context, however, perceived interdependence and the need for cooperative interaction make salient the absence of mutual trust. Without the mechanism of depersonalized trust based on common identity, the risk of exploited cooperation looms large and distrust dominates over trust in the deci- sion structure. It is for this reason that I have argued elsewhere (Brewer, in press) that the anticipation of positive interdependence with an outgroup, brought on by perceptions of common goals or common threat, actually promotes intergroup conflict and hostility. When negative evaluations of the outgroup such as contempt or fear are also already present, common threat in particular may promote scapegoating and blame rather than mutual cooperation.
Perceived positive interdependence with the outgroup also threatens inter- group differentiation. To the extent that feelings of secure inclusion, ingroup loyalty, and optimal identity are dependent upon the clarity of ingroup boundaries and intergroup distinctions, shared experiences and cooperation with the outgroup
threaten the basis for social identification. Particularly for individuals who are exclusively vested in a single group identity, the threat of lost distinctiveness may override the pursuit of superordinate goals and lead to resistance to cooperation (collaboration) even at the cost of ingroup self-interest.
Common Values and Social Comparison
Shared goals may promote intergroup conflict in another way when they are combined with shared values. When two groups are pursuing the same goals or outcomes (including nonmaterial goods and positive values such as world peace and democracy), the potential for competition is enhanced. According to social identity theory, ingroups strive not only for differentiation from outgroups but for positive distinctiveness(Turner, 1975), seeking ingroup-outgroup comparisons that favor the ingroup over other groups. Thus, groups value those characteristics or achievements with respect to which they see themselves as better than the outgroup and also strive to achieve or maintain positive comparisons on dimen- sions that they value.
Different groups can all achieve positive distinctiveness if they value different things. As long as the ingroup feels superior on dimensions that are important to the group’s identity, members can tolerate or acknowledge outgroup superiority on dimensions of lesser importance (Mummendey & Schreiber, 1983; Mummendey & Simon, 1989). However, when groups hold common values and adopt a com- mon measure of relative worth, the search for positive distinctiveness is inevitably a competitive one (Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999). When superordinate goals make mutual social comparison salient, the potential for outgroup derogation and conflict is enhanced (Deschamps & Brown, 1983). Ingroups that are relatively advantaged seek to maintain or exaggerate the positive comparisons that favor their own group (Mullen, Brown, & Smith, 1992) while ingroups that are less advantaged seek to minimize the relative difference or suffer relative deprivation and resentment toward the outgroup (Smith, Spears, & Oyen, 1994; Vanneman & Pettigrew, 1972).
Moral superiority, fear and distrust of outgroups, and social comparison are all processes that emerge from ingroup maintenance and favoritism and can lead to hostility and conflict between groups even in the absence of realistic conflict over material resources or power. When groups are political entities, however, these processes may be exacerbated through deliberate manipulation by group leaders in the interests of mobilizing collective action to secure or maintain political power. Social differentiation provides the fault lines in any social system that can be exploited for political purposes. When trust is ingroup-based, it is easy to fear
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control by outsiders; perceived common threat from outgroups increases ingroup cohesion and loyalty; appeals to ingroup interests have greater legitimacy than appeals to personal self-interest. Thus politicization, an important mechanism of social change, can be added to the factors that may contribute to a positive correla- tion between ingroup love and outgroup hate.
Concentric Loyalties: A Possibility?
Social structure and individual psychology converge to make ingroup- outgroup differentiation an inevitable feature of social life. Further, ingroup favoritism, even in the absence of overt antagonism toward outgroups, is not benign. Studies of ethnic and racial prejudice in the United States and Europe confirm that the essence of “subtle racism” is not the presence of strong negative attitudes toward minority outgroups but theabsenceof positive sentiments toward those groups (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner, 1993; Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995; Stangor, Sullivan, & Ford, 1991, study 1). Compared to ingroupers, outgroupers are less likely to be helped in ambiguous circumstances (Frey & Gaertner, 1986; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1977; Gaertner, Dovidio, & Johnson, 1982), more likely to be seen as provoking aggression (Baron, 1979; Rogers & Prentice-Dunn, 1981), less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in attribu- tions for negative behaviors (Weber, 1994), and likely to be seen as less deserv- ing of public welfare (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995). Ultimately, many forms of discrimination and bias may develop not because outgroups are hated, but because positive emotions such as admiration, sympathy, and trust are reserved for the ingroup and withheld from outgroups.
As we have seen above, ingroup favoritism and protectivism also provide fertile ground for perceived conflict and antagonism toward outgroups. Thus the conditions required for concentric loyalty to ingroups at one level and to more inclusive groups that subsume ingroup and outgroups at another level would appear to be difficult to achieve. In addition to psychological needs, there are social structural and cultural factors that may promote the intensity of ingroup attachment and loyalty and enhance the distance between ingroup and outgroups. When the salience and strength of intragroup interdependence and mutual obligation is increased, the importance of maintaining group boundaries is also increased. Hence we might expect that in collectivist societies ingroup-outgroup distinctions and distrust of outgroups would be higher than in individualistic societies where social interdependence is less emphasized. Indeed, findings from cross-cultural studies of ingroup bias in collectivist and individualist societies support this pre- diction (Triandis, 1995).
The Role of Social Structure and Complexity
A direct relationship between intense ingroup favoritism and outgroup antag- onism might also be expected in highly segmented societies that are differentiated along a single primary categorization, such as ethnicity or religion. And this would be especially true if the categorization is dichotomous, dividing the society into two significant subgroups.3 Such segmentation promotes social comparison and perceptions of conflict of interest that give rise to negative attitudes toward outgroups and high potential for conflict. By contrast, the potential for intergroup conflict may be reduced in societies that are more complex and differentiated along multiple dimensions that are cross-cutting rather than perfectly correlated.
In a complex social structure characterized by cross-cutting category distinc- tions a single person may be attached to one ingroup by virtue of ethnic heritage, to another by religion, to yet another based on occupation, or region of residence, and so forth. With this profusion of social identities, other individuals will be fellow ingroup members on one category distinction but outgroupers on another. Such cross-cutting ingroup-outgroup distinctions reduce the intensity of the individual’s dependence on any particular ingroup for meeting psychological needs for inclu- sion, thereby reducing the potential for polarizing loyalties along any single cleav- age or group distinction and perhaps increasing tolerance for outgroups in general.
This insight that a complex, cross-cutting pattern of social differentiation increases social stability and tolerance has been independently generated by anthropologists (e.g., Gluckman, 1955; Murphy, 1957), sociologists (e.g., Coser, 1956), and political scientists (e.g., Almond & Verba, 1963; Lipset, 1959, 1960). Coser (1956) hypothesized, for instance:
In flexible social structures, multiple conflicts crisscross each other and thereby prevent ba- sic cleavages along one axis. The multiple group affiliations of individuals makes them par- ticipate in various group conflicts so that their total personalities are not involved in any single one of them. Thus segmental participation in a multiplicity of conflicts constitutes a balancing mechanism within the structure. (pp. 153–154)
Similarly, Lipset (1959) identified role differentiation and cross-cutting ties as essential structural preconditions for the development of stable democracies.
Despite the theoretical significance attached to cross-cutting social identities in other social sciences, social psychologists have not given much attention to the
Ingroup Love or Outgroup Hate? 439
3 Social scientists contribute to the dichotomization of ethnic/racial divisions in the United States when we make reference to comparisons between “White majority” and “minorities,” thereby collaps- ing highly diverse groups into two generic categories. Correspondingly, Sears, Citron, Cheleden, and van Laar (1999) report results of survey data indicating that for many White Americans, attitudes about Asian and Hispanic immigrant groups are largely an extension of their previously learned attitudes toward African Americans, despite the enormous social and historical differences in the positions of these different minority groups within this society.
psychology of multiple social identities and multiple group loyalties or their impli- cation for intergroup relations (but see Marcus-Newhall, Miller, Holtz, & Brewer, 1993; Urban & Miller, 1998). As a start in this direction, we have begun studies of the patterns of group identities held by American college students (Silver & Brewer, 1997). Table 1 presents a sampling of the diverse configurations that are obtained when college students are asked to indicate the five group memberships that are most important to their sense of identity. Even among these relatively young citizens, there are a number of indications of complex, cross-cutting social identities. First, multiple group memberships are common—few of our partici- pants had trouble generating at least four or five important group identities. Sec- ond, the configuration of specific group memberships varies tremendously from person to person. Indeed, we found that memberships in religious, ethnic, gender, and political groupings were essentially uncorrelated among the more than 200
Table 1.Sample Student Identity Profiles
S1: Catholics Men Engineering students
OSU students Republicans
S2: Catholics Women Hispanic Americans
Ohio residents OSU students
S3: Catholics European Americans
Fraternity OSU students Student athletes
S4: Baptists African Americans
Women Business students
S5: Women OSU students Lutherans Honors students
S6: European Americans
Women Methodists Republicans OSU students
S7: Democrats Christians Women OSU students Ohio residents
S8: OSU students Women Evangelicals European Americans
S9: Men European Americans
OSU students Liberals Urban students
S10: Evangelicals Honors students OSU students Conservatives Men
S11: Men Environmentalists Student athletes
S12: Jews Student athletes Democrats OSU students Ohio residents
S13: OSU students Catholics Liberals Off-campus residents
S14: Asian Americans Men Business students
Conservatives Young adults
S15: Honors students Liberals Democrats Ohio residents Environmentalists
students in our sample. Third, measures of degree of identification and loyalty to various social groups were positively rather than negatively correlated (Silver & Brewer, 1997), indicating that respondents do not see these identities as competing or mutually exclusive.
The Psychology of Identity Complexity
Our initial exploratory efforts, then, indicate that there are good grounds for characterizing American society as a complex structure of cross-cutting social ties and group identities. However, it is not just the objective reality of overlapping group memberships that will determine whether cross-cutting identities promote tolerance and prevent intergroup conflict. More important is how these multiple identities are represented subjectively by individuals when they think about their social group memberships. First is the question of whether individuals are aware of their multiple ingroup loyalties, whether different ingroup identities are accessible and salient simultaneously or psychologically isolated and fenced off from each other. The second question is how individuals think about dual identities when they are both salient. Do they think of both groups in their most inclusive sense, so that overlapping memberships are evident? Or do they think of their own ingroup iden- tification as thecombinationof joint group memberships (White American as opposed to both Caucasian in general and American in general; Black woman, as opposed to woman and African American as separate inclusive identities)?
This latter question is particularly important because it determines whether individuals who share a single ingroup membership (but not other memberships) are viewed as ingroup members or outgroupers. Defining one’s ingroup at the intersection of multiple category distinctions creates a high degree of distinctive- ness or exclusiveness at the cost of meeting needs for inclusion. It is likely that different value systems and individual differences in social orientation lead to dif- ferences in how individuals resolve their membership in multiple social categories. Cross-cutting memberships may have the potential to increase tolerance and give rise to more inclusive, concentric group loyalties, but this potential will not be real- ized if ingroups are defined exclusely rather than inclusively. As social psycholo- gists interested in promoting positive social identities and positive intergroup relations, it behooves us to examine more closely the cognitive and motivational concomitants of multiple group identities in a complex social system.
A cursory review of forty years of social psychological research on intergroup relations suggests that Allport (1954) was right in assigning psychological primacy to the processes of ingroup formation and attachment over attitudes toward outgroups. Many discriminatory perceptions and behaviors are motivated
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primarily by the desire to promote and maintain positive relationships within the ingroup rather than by any direct antagonism toward outgroups. Ingroup love is not a necessary precursor of outgroup hate. However, the very factors that make ingroup attachment and allegiance important to individuals also provide a fertile ground for antagonism and distrust of those outside the ingroup boundaries. The need to justify ingroup values in the form of moral superiority to others, sensitivity to threat, the anticipation of interdependence under conditions of distrust, social comparison processes, and power politics all conspire to connect ingroup identifi- cation and loyalty to disdain and overt hostility toward outgroups.
I have argued that these forces are likely to be particularly powerful in highly segmented, hierarchically organized societies. Societies characterized by multiple cross-cutting group divisions are more likely to provide a context in which ingroup attachments and loyalties are not necessarily associated with outgroup antago- nisms. Building on Allport’s insights, then, one agenda for future research in the social psychology of intergroup relations would be a shift of focus from single ingroup-outgroup distinctions to a focus on understanding the psychology of mul- tiple group identities and its implications for intergroup perception and attitudes.
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MARILYNN BREWER is Regents Professor of Social Psychology at Ohio State University, a Past President of SPSSI, and the 1995 Kurt Lewin Memorial Award recipient. Her research in the area of social identity and intergroup relations has been published in numerous research articles and books, includingEthnocentrism and Intergroup Attitudes: East African Evidence(co-authored with Donald Camp- bell, 1976), Groups in Contact: The Social Psychology of Desegregation (co-edited with Norman Miller, 1984) andIntergroup Relations(co-authored with Norman Miller, 1996). She also served as President of the American Psychological Society and of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
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