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 Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>