Negotiating (non) normality: effects of consistency between views of one's self and one's social group
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The purpose of the study was to examine the influence of feedback regarding personal and group performance on children's views of (a) themselves (e.g., state selfesteem), (b) their ingroup and outgroup (e.g., trait stereotyping), and (c) novel tasks (e.g., task liking). In addition, moderating effects of age and individual difference variables (self-esteem, conformity orientation, and entity/incremental theory of personality) on the relation between self and group views were examined. Theorists have offered differing accounts of the causal mechanisms that underlie relations between views of the self and social groups. Self-verification theorists have argued that perceptions of the self drive individuals' views of, and attitudes toward, their groups. In contrast, self-categorization theorists argue that membership in groups causes individuals to perceive themselves in ways that are consistent with perceptions or stereotypes of the group. However, membership in many social groups (e.g., gender, racial, ethnic groups) is not freely chosen. What happens when individuals' views of themselves differ from their perceptions of their ingroups or the prevailing stereotypes about their ingroups? To address this question, children (N = 120, ages 7-12) attending a summer school program were randomly assigned a novel social group membership. As in other research (e.g., Bigler, Jones, & Lobliner, 1997), teachers used the groups to label children and organize the classroom. Over the course of several weeks, children completed three novel tasks and received feedback indicating that their performance was either excellent or mediocre and their ingroup's performance was either excellent or mediocre. Thus, there were four conditions: personal performance excellent, group performance excellent (positive verifying); personal performance excellent, group performance mediocre (overachieving); personal performance mediocre, group performance excellent (underachieving); and personal performance mediocre, group performance mediocre (negative verifying). Effects of condition on self-perceptions, views of the tasks, and intergroup attitudes were then assessed. Results indicated effects of personal and group feedback on children's task evaluations, ingroup identification, and intergroup attitudes. There was stronger evidence for main effects of feedback type than for interaction effects of feedback consistency versus inconsistency. Results are discussed in light of self-categorization, selfverification, and optimal distinctiveness theories.