Our Flaws Are More Human Than Yours: Ingroup Bias in Humanizing Negative Characteristics

  • Koval P
  • Laham S
  • Haslam N
 et al. 
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Abstract

Four studies investigated whether people tend to see ingroup flaws as part of human nature (HN) to a greater degree than outgroup flaws. In Study 1, people preferentially ascribed high HN flaws to their ingroup relative to two outgroups. Study 2 demonstrated that flaws were rated higher on HN when attributed to the ingroup than when attributed to an outgroup, and no such difference occurred for positive traits. Study 3 replicated this humanizing ingroup flaws (HIF) effect and showed that it was (a) independent of desirability and (b) specific to the HN sense of humanness. Study 4 replicated the results of Study 3 and demonstrated that the HIF effect is amplified under ingroup identity threat. Together, these findings show that people humanize ingroup flaws and preferentially ascribe high HN flaws to the ingroup. These ingroup humanizing biases may serve a group-protective function by mitigating ingroup flaws as "only human."

Author-supplied keywords

  • flaws
  • human nature
  • humanizing
  • humanness
  • ingroup bias

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Authors

  • Peter Koval

  • Simon M. Laham

  • Nick Haslam

  • Brock Bastian

  • Jennifer A. Whelan

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