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      The Perception of Instability and Legitimacy of Status Differences Enhances the Infrahumanization Bias among High Status Groups


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          Previous research within the social identity framework has shown that perceptions of legitimacy and stability of status differences interactively determine cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses to intergroup contexts. Whether such perceptions affect subtle forms of prejudice, namely infrahumanisation, is unknown. We examined if the perceptions regarding high status stability and legitimacy are associated to the infrahumanisation bias. We hypothesized that participants perceiving status differences as unstable and legitimate would report higher levels of infrahumanization than those who perceive status differences as stable and/or illegitimate. Participants (N = 439 Italian students enrolled in psychology courses) completed a structured paper-and-pencil questionnaire. We found that participants tended to attribute more negative secondary emotions to their ingroup (Italians) than to the outgroup (immigrants from Africa), indicating the presence of an infrahumanization bias. The results of a moderated regression aimed at predicting infrahumanization showed that high-status group members who perceived status differences as legitimate and unstable reported higher levels of infrahumanization than their counterparts did. The results attest the important and independent role of the perceptions related to the status for the debate on intergroup relations.

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          Most cited references23

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          Psychological essentialism and the differential attribution of uniquely human emotions to ingroups and outgroups

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            Intergroup threat and outgroup attitudes: a meta-analytic review.

            This article examines the relationship between intergroup threat and negative outgroup attitudes. We first qualitatively review the intergroup threat literature, describing the shift from competing theories toward more integrated approaches, such as the integrated threat theory (ITT; W. G. Stephan and Stephan, 2000). The types of threats discussed include: realistic threat, symbolic threat, intergroup anxiety, negative stereotypes, group esteem threat, and distinctiveness threat. We then conducted a quantitative meta-analysis examining the relationships between various intergroup threats and outgroup attitudes. The meta-analysis, involving 95 samples, revealed that 5 different threat types had a positive relationship with negative outgroup attitudes. Additionally, outgroup status moderated some of these relationships. Implications and future directions are considered.
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              Status differences and in-group bias: a meta-analytic examination of the effects of status stability, status legitimacy, and group permeability.

              This work examines the moderating effects of status stability, legitimacy, and group permeability on in-group bias among high- and low-status groups. These effects were examined separately for evaluative measures that were relevant as well as irrelevant to the salient status distinctions. The results support social identity theory and show that high-status groups are more biased. The meta-analysis reveals that perceived status stability, legitimacy, and permeability moderate the effects of group status. Also, these variables interacted in their influences on the effect of group status on in-group bias, but this was only true for irrelevant evaluative dimensions. When status was unstable and perceived as illegitimate, low-status groups and high-status groups were equally biased when group boundaries were impermeable, compared with when they were permeable. Implications for social identity theory as well as for intergroup attitudes are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Eur J Psychol
                Eur J Psychol
                Europe's Journal of Psychology
                June 2019
                07 June 2019
                : 15
                : 2
                : 358-366
                [a ]Department of Psychology, University of Torino, Torino, Italy
                [2]Webster University Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
                [3]London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Psychology, University of Torino, Via Verdi 10, 10124, Torino, Italy. silvia.russo@ 123456unito.it

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 05 January 2018
                : 16 November 2018
                Research Reports

                infrahumanization,high-status group,status stability,status legitimacy,intergroup-relations


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