Self-stereotyping is a process by which people belonging to a stigmatized social group tend to describe themselves more with stereotypical traits as compared with traits irrelevant to the ingroup stereotype. The present work analyzes why especially members of low-status groups are more inclined to self-stereotype compared to members of high-status groups. We tested the hypothesis that belonging to a low-, rather than a high-status group, makes low-status members feel more threatened and motivates them to protect their self-perception by increasing their similarity with the ingroup. Specifically, we investigated the effects of an experimental manipulation that was conceived to either threaten or protect the natural group membership of participants from either a low- or a high-status group on the level of self-stereotyping. The findings supported the idea that only low-status group members protected themselves when their group identity was threatened through increased self-stereotyping.
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