What they think matters! The role of (meta) representations of the superordinate group among minority and majority members

Superordinate groups serve as background against which group members evaluate their intergroup relation (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987), whereby higher subgroup prototypicality seems desirable (Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999). This dissertation contributes to the study of superordinate groups by introducing the hitherto neglected role of ingroup members’ meta-perceptions, i.e. their beliefs of how the outgroup represents the superordinate group. By combining research on social power (Fiske, 1993) and threatened social identities (Shelton, Richeson, & Vorauer, 2006), meta-perceptions of the superordinate group are conceptualized as social identity threats that impact on intergroup relations. In addition, in focusing on ethnic minority-majority relations, this dissertation differentiates between two different types of identities among minority members (Phinney & Devich-Navarro, 1997). Three studies with N=330 minority and N=814 majority members converged on the finding that the subgroups disagreed in their superordinate group representations. Both groups wanted their outgroup to be relatively less represented within the superordinate group. Further, both believed that their outgroup had a different perspective from their own, namely one that put the ingroup in a relatively weaker position. Overall, group members’ meta-perception of a less favorable standing of the ingroup within the superordinate group was related to more negative intergroup relations. This was especially true for minority members strongly identified with their subgroup, while among minority members who felt attached to both groups own perceptions were the main predictor of intergroup outcomes. As expected, majority members’ own perspective was the strongest predictor, but their meta-perceptions explained additional variance. These results identify meta-perceptions of the superordinate group as social identity threats, and emphasize to differentiate between different minority identities.


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