Balanced identity in the minimal groups paradigm

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Balanced Identity Theory [1] formalizes a set of relationships between group attitude, group identification, and self-esteem. While these relationships have been demonstrated for familiar and highly salient social categories, questions remain regarding the generality of the balance phenomenon and its causal versus descriptive status. Supporting the generality and rapidity of cognitive balance, four studies demonstrate that the central predictions of balance are supported even for previously unfamiliar "minimal" social groups to which participants have just been randomly assigned. Further, supporting a causal as opposed to merely descriptive interpretation, manipulating any one component of the balance model (group attitude, group identification, or self-esteem) affects at least one of the related components. Interestingly, the broader pattern of cognitive balance was preserved across such manipulations only when the manipulation strengthens as opposes to weakens the manipulated construct. Taken together, these findings indicate that Balanced Identity Theory has promise as a general theory of intergroup attitudes, and that it may be able to shed light on prior inconsistencies concerning the relationship between self-esteem and intergroup bias. © 2013 Yarrow Dunham.




Dunham, Y. (2013). Balanced identity in the minimal groups paradigm. PLoS ONE, 8(12).

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