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Group identification moderates reactions to prejudice

Don Operario, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Prejudice and discrimination are facts of life for members of stigmatized groups. This dissertation examines how members of stigmatized groups respond to prejudice and discrimination, depending on their group identification--that is, the emotional and personal value derived from their group membership. Because of the cognitive and motivational properties associated with group identification, people who identify very strongly with their stigmatized group differ from people who identify less strongly in their reactions to prejudice. Four studies examine how ethnic minorities and women perceive and respond to prejudice as a function of their group identification. Findings from all four studies indicate that people who identify strongly with their stigmatized group are likely to (a) perceive themselves as potential targets of discrimination, and (b) express suspicion during intergroup relations; people who identify less strongly with their group perceive less personal discrimination and express less suspicion during intergroup relations. These studies also reveal the negative emotional consequences of being a target of discrimination. Differences between studies illuminate the complexity of confronting prejudice, and in particular indicate how the phenomenology of racism differs markedly from the phenomenology of sexism.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Operario, Don, "Group identification moderates reactions to prejudice" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909200.