Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The ins and outs of in-groups and out-groups

02.11.2012
Psychological Science examines social perception and behavior

We humans organize ourselves in myriad kinds of social groups, from scout troops and sports teams to networks of friends, colleagues, or classmates. But how do these social groups work? How do we decide whom to trust and whom to follow? And how do we deal with people that don't seem to fit the norms of our social groups?

New research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores these issues by examining various facets of social perception and behavior.

The Herding Hormone: Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity

Mirre Stallen, Carsten K. W. De Dreu, Shaul Shalvi, Ale Smidts, and Alan G. Sanfey

People tend to conform to the behaviors of those they associate with, but not much is known about the mechanisms driving this. Psychological scientist Mirre Stallen of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University and her colleagues investigated whether hormonal mechanisms might play a role. Specifically, they wondered whether the neuropeptide oxytocin – known to facilitate prosocial behavior – might be at work. Male participants were given a dose of the oxytocin or a placebo. They were then told that they would be divided into two groups to complete a task that involved rating the attractiveness of unfamiliar symbols. Before making their decisions, the participants could see the ratings of the other people inside and outside of their group. When the in-group and out-group members' ratings differed, participants given oxytocin conformed more closely to the in-group's scores.

This conformity effect was not seen in the placebo group. Together, these findings suggest that oxytocin can influence subjective preferences and may stimulate individuals to conform to the behavior and beliefs of others in their group. Stallen and colleagues note that the finding that oxytocin stimulates conformity toward in-group members, but not out-group members, will help researchers to develop a more refined theory of the effects of oxytocin on social judgment and behavior.

Corresponding author: Mirre Stallen – Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University, the Netherlands – M.Stallen@donders.ru.nl

Treating Prejudice: An Exposure-Therapy Approach to Reducing Negative Reactions Toward Stigmatized Groups

Michèle D. Birtel and Richard J. Crisp

Exposure therapy has been used to treat many types of phobias, but can it also be used to reduce prejudice against stigmatized groups? In three different experiments, psychological scientists Michèle Birtel and Richard Crisp examined whether a form of exposure therapy – activating negative thoughts and feelings before introducing positive countervailing thoughts – might be effective at reducing intergroup anxiety toward stigmatized groups (e.g., adults with schizophrenia, gay men, British Muslims). In each experiment, the researchers assigned participants to one of two groups: One group was asked to imagine two instances of positive contact with a person of the stigmatized group, while the other group was asked to imagine an instance of negative contact and an instance of positive contact with a person of the stigmatized group. Participants' intergroup anxiety and future contact intentions toward individuals in the stigmatized groups were then assessed. Taking the findings of the three experiments together, participants who first imagined a negative encounter and then a positive encounter reported lower intergroup anxiety and higher future-contact intentions than did participants who only imagined positive encounters. Birtel and Crisp conclude that "a small dose of negativity administered just prior to a positively focused intervention can be surprisingly effective in reducing prejudice toward stigmatized groups."

Corresponding author: Michèle Birtel – University of Oxford, UK – michele.birtel@psy.ox.ac.uk

The Stranger Effect: The Rejection of Affective Deviants

Lauren Szczurek, Benoît Monin, and James J. Gross

How do react to people who display unexpected emotional responses? Researcher Lauren Szczurek and colleagues at Stanford University asked participants to view a slideshow of positive, neutral, or negative images and a video of a viewer's responses to the images. In some cases, the viewer's responses matched up with the content of the video (e.g., positive emotional expressions in response to positive images), and in others, they were deviant. Interestingly, participants reported more negative judgments toward deviants who showed incongruent responses (e.g., positive emotional expressions to negative images) than toward deviants who showed flat expressions (e.g., no discernible emotional response). Participants reported preferring greater social distance from deviant viewers because they felt they shared fewer moral values with the deviant viewers. According to the researchers, these findings illustrate how subtle departures from what we consider to be "normative" affect can have significant and severe social consequences.

Corresponding author: Lauren Szczurek – Stanford University - laurensz@stanford.edu

Please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or amikulak@psychologicalscience.org for more information.

Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>