An extension to group-based uncertainty reduction: Extreme self-perceptions of ingroup prototypicality

Date

2019-05

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Abstract

Self-uncertainty causes individuals to adopt extreme attitudes and to join extreme groups because altering the self to possess clear group-based attitudes, feelings, and behavior reduces ambiguity toward one’s identity. Yet, research on group-based uncertainty reduction has not tested if self-uncertainty causes group members to adopt extreme positions within the ingroup. The current research tested the hypothesis that self-uncertainty causes ingroup members to perceive the self as extremely prototypical to compensate for the lack of certainty they feel about their identity. One-hundred and fifty American adults participated in a mixed subjects experimental design with time as the within-subjects factor (Time 1 vs. Time 2) and condition as the between-subjects factor (Uncertainty vs. Certainty vs. Negative control) to test if manipulating self-uncertainty enhances self-perceptions of prototypicality. Findings showed that uncertainty did not cause differences in perceptions of general prototypicality or in self-stereotyping. However, as predicted, group identification moderated the relationship between uncertainty and self-stereotyping. As group identification increased, self-stereotyping increased among uncertainty participants, but did not change among certainty or negative control participants. These data highlight the importance of identification strength in determining the effect of situational uncertainty on group member perceptions, which offers us a deeper understanding of critical group member behavior such as seeking leadership roles within the ingroup.

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Keywords

Social identity, Prototypicality, Self-uncertainty, Self-stereotyping

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