When is group membership zero-sum? Effects of ethnicity, threat, and social identity on dual national identity

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Abstract

This paper presents an investigation into marginalizing racism, a form of prejudice whereby ingroup members claim that specific individuals belong to their group, but also exclude them by not granting them all of the privileges of a full ingroup member. One manifestation of this is that perceived degree of outgroup membership will covary negatively with degree of ingroup membership. That is, group membership may be treated as a zero-sum quantity (e.g., one cannot be both Australian and Iraqi). Study 1 demonstrated that judges allocate more zero-sum membership assignments and lower combined membership in their country of origin and their adopted country to high-threat migrants than low-threat migrants. Study 2 identified a subtle type of zero-sum reasoning which holds that stronger degree of membership in one's original nationality constrains membership in a new nationality to a greater extent than stronger membership in the new nationality constrains membership in one's original nationality. This pattern is quite general, being replicated in large samples from four nations (USA, UK, India, and China). Taken together, these studies suggest that marginalizing racism is more than a belief that people retain a "stain" from membership in their original group. Marginalizing racism also manifests itself as conditional zero-sum beliefs about multiple group memberships.

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Smithson, M., Sopeña, A., & Platow, M. J. (2015). When is group membership zero-sum? Effects of ethnicity, threat, and social identity on dual national identity. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130539

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